Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Camps with a difference

Not for Conductive Education – with it
Do tell us more

In the short history of Conductive Education, the camps run by March of Dimes are probably not unique but they are described in a way that hints at a different way of providing short-term conductive pedagogy as a contibution to young people's long-term upbringing.

As stated, this approach is characterised by camps' that are not being run for Conductive Education, i.e. through provision of a range of context-free 'programs' (perhaps involving lots of wooden furniture) but by being run to achieve a range of other experiences of the sort that the young people's' peers might also be involved in at this time of year, these being provided in the ethos of Conductive Education

The conduction then comes not from 'programs' but from adults (here conductors) who arrange and run matters in a conductive way.

Judge the intention for yourselves from:

Tell us more

Accounts of other such experiences, not necessarily in Canada and not neessarily in the the form of 'camps', would make a most contribution to other people's attempts to break out of the confines of current practice.
This report comes from last year. Any news of how things have progressed?

These are very short experiences. It would be very interesting also to hear how these camps incorporate attempts to ensure generalisation into the children's/families real lives outside and beyond the camps themselves.

And how others do...


  1. Andrew,

    We call them "Uberlebungscamp"!

    The children and teenagers thought up the name, they thought it was funny, sort of a "survival" camp. A holiday with conductors, they knew that it would not be a doddle!
    They took the word from "uberlegung", which is what you do when you give something some thought!

    We book one of the buildings that schools use when the whole class goes on their yearly trip together instead of spending the week at school. There are plenty of these dotted about the country that are rented out to various groups during the summer holidays. They are well situated with access to various activities, near train stations and bus stops, swimming pools, lakes, beach, parks and sometimes even in the middle of a city.

    Over the years this has style of camp has developed. The lat two years have seen a rise in the age of the clientel wishing to take part, so what is on offer has changed too.

    Last year the group went to Italy and this year, yesterday they went off to the north German coast. There has been more of a Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday feel to it than a survival camp the last couple of years. The "campers" are mostly all old hands, they know the ropes and have a lot of fun.

    Holiday living is done conductively. Outings, evening games, crafts, washing, dressing, showering, cinema visits, leaping over waves, visiting a museum, drinking iced tea in a cafe. All that takes place is done with conductors.

    Something to interest everyone just as it is on a group holiday.

  2. From te final day of the Ontariocamp, Mhiri Watson has written to tell us more:

    Funny you should choose today to make this posting, Andrew.

    As I type I am sitting at overnight camp talking two of our teens through their morning routine. This is the last morning of our overnight camp and the teens have had a blast.

    I have just asked Andrea why this camp is important to her and what she gains from it. Mean of me to ask her to be coherent and with it at 7 a.m., I know, but here is her response.

    "This camp is important to me because I dont really get any other opportunities like this. Usually when I go away it is with my family and they are always hovering over me and doing pretty much everything for me. Here I get to work on skills to make me more independent. The highlight of my camp was going kayaking yesterday. I found it really relaxing and much easier this year after practising lots of long-legged sitting this month in our regular CE class in Toronto."

    One of our younger boys came to camp with his Dad for the first time this year. Dad has been furiously Facebooking the experience from his iphone each time his child participates in something new, makes a new friend and chooses his new friend over the grown-ups for companionship. I will forward him your link and see if he will share his experience on your blog. This way we can hear their story first-hand.

    Time to go, the kids need to pack and get ready for breakfast.


  3. Summer camps of Tsad Kadima run every summer since Tsad Kadima was established 22 years ago. The camps changed their contents over the years. At the beginning, these camps were designed to allow a glimpse of the conductive world for families and their children. Over the years, Tsad kadima has based frameworks which provide conductive services for all ages in Israel. Currently they are designed for teenagers and young adults aged 14-24. Every summer about 30 young adults meet at kibuts Hanaton in northern Israel for a week of intensive work. The work combines motor activity and activities with a social orientation. The aims of the camp are several: a) a social gathering that includes improving social skills and enabling access to the contents related to the world of adults with disabilities (group dynamics, relationships, sexuality, etc.). The camp allows interaction between the young adults in unstructured situation without the mediation of the staff. b) maintain the spirit of motivation in the individual-level to continue the never ending work towards improving functional skills c) the camps enable new staff to enter the world of adults with disabilities.
    The camps are the highlight of the annual activity. They also draw young adults who do not regularly participate in TK's activities. Camps were opened in the past for young adults from abroad. We see this as an opportunity for international meeting and we look forward to such initiatives and convinced that if they carried out, this would be an unforgettable experience.
    The camps are also an attraction for people who do not work or will work with our young adults,. These volunteers become full partners in work and serve as ambassadors of Tsad Kadima everywhere they go.

    There is no doubt that today you can not imagine the annual activity without the summer camp.
    I hope that the frequency and the duration of these camps will grow in favor of young adults with disabilities.
    Yuval Tsur
    Camp director

    The impression of priest Tim Ahrens who was at kibuts Hanaton by chance and turned from a spectator to an active partner:
    "For one week at Kibbutz Hannaton, I was blessed to share the dormitory and cafeteria with 32 young adults with Cerebral Palsy. In addition, over 25 adult staff and volunteers, plus their children, completed this glorious array of "The Children of Abraham." They are Christians, Muslims and a beautiful array of Jews. Most of all, they love one another.

    Their days were filled with laughter, hugs, singing, high ropes, social activities and moving. They were always on the move! They call themselves "Tsad Kadima" (A Step Forward).

    To me, they are my newest friends in Israel. They welcomed me as family to every activity and meal. I have rarely been so warmly welcomed by complete strangers. Meir, Michal, and Yair took me in. Michal is a lovely young woman who loves everyone. She is amazingly engaging. She would make a great actress. Meir is an athlete and loves conversation and interaction. He is also very funny! I met Yair singing Hip-Hop one night. Moreover, he writes and performs Hip-Hop. He has five of his own Hip-Hop songs on www.MySpace.com. You can find them if you go to MySpace and then cpmc1.

    I have wonderful memories of our time together. But, my favorite memory of the group was watching those in wheelchairs and walkers get on to their feet and walk great distances throughout the day. Their training department leader, Yuval Tsur said it best, They Step Forward with love. "I would add, love plus patience, perseverance and presence.

  4. Thank you so much, to all four of you.

    Yuval, could I ask you to pass on my thanks to Tim.

    I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions about what these experiences have in common, in respect both to what is present and what is not. The camping season must be just about over now. Does anybody else have any contributions to offer?

    I have reposted all four contributions on 30 August as a main posting, to ensure that they get the attention that they deserve: