Thanks to a generous grant from the Kessler Foundation, the summer 2012 Camp Oakhurst pre-vocational program served both male and female clients with disabilities from 13 to 19 years old, with an average age of 16.4, and with 40 total clients served, 17 female and 23 male.
The program consisted of three components: a personal goals program, which worked with individuals in setting a reasonable goal for personal care, which could involve doing something for themselves or being able to instruct a non-family member in the proper way to perform a specific care need; vocational goals for individual campers to work in the camp “sugar shack” store and in delivering mail, and group vocational goals which provided campers with an opportunity to apply and interview for, receive assigned job responsibilities and see the results of their work in planning, preparing for and presenting each end of session banquet. In addition, the group vocational goals included daily group meetings to discuss a theme or topic that applied to employment or job performance. All 40 participants took part in the group vocational goals/activities, 36 in the individual vocational goals/activities and 16 participated in the personal goals activities.
Campers were excited to have the opportunity for the first time in 2012 to work on the banquet planning, preparations and presentation. In past summers, they typically arrived for the dinner and dance and see what staff had planned. This summer, campers helped decide on the theme, decorations, food that would be served, prepared the food, table arrangements and setting and decorations for the Recreation Hall where the dance was held. Every participant was also offered the opportunity to DJ and take photographs during the dance.
The Kessler Foundation’s support has been so important to our ability to offer a pre-vocational program in our summer camp sessions in 2010 and 2012 and now also in 2013. We are helping our clients with disabilities begin to understand the world of work, to experience working with others, running a store, delivering mail, organizing events, and setting and attaining personal care goals to help them move toward a more independent life.