Great Expectations: Camp Manoa Gears Up for a Second Summer to Outdo Its First

Posted on Apr 12, 2016 in Main, NEWS

“One of the best things I (they) have ever done.” That’s how several young people and their parents described the inaugural 2015 Camp Mānoa Leadership Camp presented by the Comprehensive Service Center for People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind (CSC). As Camp Mānoa leadership gears up for the 2016 camp this summer, there will be great expectations for an even better event. From July 6 through 10, 2016, young people from across the Hawaiian Islands will gather to learn leadership and other skills while staying in the UH Mānoa dormitories.

Camp Mānoa began as an idea to keep students engaged with learning when they may be otherwise isolated during summers  – away from structured school settings that provide direct communication with other deaf students and staff. This idea evolved into a partnership between the Department of Human Services Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), the UH Mānoa Center for Disability Studies, and the Comprehensive Service Center (CSC) for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind.

In 2015, 17 young people, aged 14 to 22, participated in Camp Mānoa. Students represented O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Maui. Campers focused on communication and developing their self-confidence, life skills, leadership, conflict resolution skills, and natural and cultural knowledge of Hawai‘i. Young people were supported by camp staff, many of whom are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as numerous community leaders who participated in an employment and leadership panel at camp.

The camp’s success depends on collaborative support. Campers who were DVR clients received support directly from DVR funds and non-clients were supported by state CSC funding. Several students learned about and applied for DVR services as a result of Camp Mānoa. CSC, DVR, UH Summer Conference Housing and campus community members all came together to produce a very memorable experience for all participants.

Camp Mānoa 2016 is right around the corner, and leadership is looking to refine its already successful model. One of the most noticeable new additions this year will be dual locations. Campers will participate for the first half of camp at UH Mānoa to experience what it’s like to live, work, and learn at the university. The second half of the camp will take place at Winners’ Camp on Kamehame Ridge for a more traditional “camp” experience where attendees will focus on team-building and other relevant leadership skills.

CDS’ Eric Folk hopes that the 2016 camp will build on last year’s success “our goal is to keep everybody safe, and offer valuable leadership and life skill training as we further develop the camp curriculum.”

Folk notes that not only will camp staff improve their own curriculum, but they’ll continue to make an impact on their new partners. Camp leaders are working closely with Winners’ Camp to help it increase the accessibility of its own curriculum for those who might be deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind.

For now though, staff are focused on a successful follow-up to last year’s impactful summer. This year they’ll increase attendance from 17 to 30 students. Folk jokes about meeting the expectations camp staff set with an outstanding first year, “We’ve set a high bar!” If Camp Mānoa only ever has its unparalleled success to compete with, young people for years to come will be in great hands.

Applications for the 2016 Camp Mānoa will open by the end of April. You can get more information about Camp Mānoa and CSC by clicking here.