SHOUT OUT is a film that explores the little known and often misunderstood world of stuttering in children and teens. Many young people who stutter contend with isolation, self-doubt and a multitude of complex feelings because of the way they speak. Parents of youth who stutter must also contend with challenging questions for their sons and daughters. Will my child have a “normal” life? Will they be picked on? Will they be able to succeed? Will my child have friends? And, most importantly, “WHAT DO I DO?” Enter Camp Shout Out.
Camp Shout Out is the brainchild of world renowned speech-language-pathologist Kristin Chmela. Kristin has contributed significantly to the world of stuttering through her teaching, professional development seminars, training videos, writings and work at her private clinic. Camp Shout Out does not succeed because of conventional thinking however, It succeeds because every aspect of camp is teaming with the lifeblood of Kristin and her own experiences as a person who stutters. The camp succeeds because the ultimate goal of the experience is for the child to walk away as a more confident communicator. This is no small or easy feat to accomplish in seven days. In fact, it happens because of magic. Yes magic! The only word to summarize a week of growth, community and acceptance IS magic. But it is a special brand of magic. It’s a type of magic that can only be built through innovative thinking and unparalleled commitment by those who facilitate it. And it all starts with building a community.
From the moment they arrive, the campers are provided with natural and positive communication experiences that encourage them to go beyond their usual physical speaking style and to communicate with others above all else. In a remarkably short period of time, one begins to see a community develop. The community is based on trust, compassion, and kindness. This sense of community pervades all areas of Camp Shout Out. This valuable social capital is constantly being built and a world of honesty and trust is engendered. A pervasive feeling of acceptance inspires the campers and the adults working with them to face challenges of all sizes and enter into feared speaking situations that help them go beyond what they thought were their limitations.
Camp Shout Out is a growth experience for EVERYONE involved. There can be no mention of Camp Shout Out without describing its breathtaking setting. Big Blue Lake sets the backdrop as the heart of the landscape of Camp Shout Out along with powerful trees and frontier style cabins. When you first walk down the small but steep hill that opens up to reveal the breadth of Camp Shout Out in the Michigan wilderness, there is something that stirs in your heart and tells you that you are about to enter a whole new world.
When the week finally comes to an end, and everyone prepares to leave the comfort of Camp Shout Out in order to enter back into their individual worlds, they all leave forever changed. The feelings each person experienced walking down the hill into camp on day one come rushing back like the soothing waves that move the long deck stretching out into Big Blue Lake after a boat zips by. There is always sadness as they leave this world of beauty and magic behind until next summer. However, they will now re-enter the real world as confident communicators. The answer to the question of “Will I succeed?” can only be answered with a resounding YES! Where there were limitations there are now options. Their world has become one where anything is possible!
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