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Stay on track at NIU’s summer camp

June 22, 2021

Ariana Carbajal can’t wait for summer camp. As a second-year graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program, Carbajal will have the opportunity to take what she has learned in the classroom and apply it to help children ages 3 to 8.

“I have worked in summer camps before but never in one targeting speech and language,” Carbajal said. “It’s a great opportunity to put my skills to practice and help campers stay on track with their speech and language skills over the summer while having fun!”

NIU’s Speech-Language Pathology program is excited to offer On Track, a speech and language summer camp for children ages 3 to 8. The four-week camp is supervised by a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and conducted by a team of graduate students enrolled in the NIU Speech-Language Pathology program.

“Programs like this are important for a few reasons,” said Emily Palmer, NIU Clinical Assistant Professor and Speech-Language Clinic Coordinator. “It provides children the ability to continue progressing with their speech and language skills over the summer, and it allows children the ability to interact with peers and engage socially while working on targeted goals.

In turn, Palmer said, the camp provides graduate students firsthand experience coordinating group speech therapy which is very common in the field of Speech-Language Pathology.

“The camp includes children in the same group with varying severities and diagnoses,” Palmer said. “Our graduate students learn how to manage each child’s individual goals and needs while maintaining the group experience; this requires a high degree of flexibility and ability to modulate in the moment.”

The On Track camps are designed for children with mild to moderate articulation, phonological, and language delays or deficits and will provide enrichment and maintenance of speech and language skills.

“This is a great program for children to maintain and improve on existing skills during the summer when they might not usually receive therapy,” Palmer said. “For children who receive services privately, this is also a wonderful program to increase the frequency of therapy for potentially quicker gains.”

Each week, the sessions incorporate a theme to target various skills like building vocabulary, grammatical concepts and phonological processes. In addition, each session provides campers with both group and individual activities.

“I am looking forward to our weekly themes,” Carbajal said. “We will be having crafts and lessons all revolving around a fun theme each week. I am so excited to set up our crafts and decorations to motivate our campers.”

Along with allowing children an opportunity to improve their speech and language skills, Carbajal said the camp promotes inclusivity.

“We don’t often stop and think about the levels of accessibility and inclusivity in summer camps,” Carbajal said. “In this camp we will be centering activities around speech and language and making it a safe and fun environment for children to work on their goals and continue their growth even while school is out for summer.”

The camp takes place July 7 and runs through July 30. Children ages 3 to 5 meet Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., and children ages  6 to 8 meet Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

All sessions are held at NIU’s state-of-the art Speech-Language Hearing Clinic, located at 3100 Sycamore Road in DeKalb.  COVID-19 precautions (masks, physical distancing, hand washing) will be strictly enforced in accordance with CDC and NIU guidelines. For more information, email Emily Palmer at [email protected]