The Springfield College Department of Occupational Therapy hosted the third annual camp-lab on the campus, a Winter C.A.M.P. (Celebrating Abilities--Making Possibilities) designed to assist transition-age young adults with mild disabilities experience college life. Each participant was paired with a small group of occupational therapy graduate students who serve as mentors.
During the five-day camp, participants make friends as they check out the Springfield College dining hall, events, activities, and fitness complex. They also experience a residence hall, cook some meals, and explore different hobbies and interests. Faculty members from the Department of Occupational Therapy supervise the graduate students in the planning and execution of activities.
“Springfield College is a perfect place for our Winter C.A.M.P. participants to experience these life-changing activities, and make decisions about what they want to do next in their own lives,” said Springfield College Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Elizabeth McAnulty. “It is an intensive learning experience for them and their student-mentor teams.”
A total of 12 participants and 42 graduate occupational therapy students in their final semester of academic studies, experience this week together.
“This program is a unique opportunity that brings together professors, occupational therapy students, community professionals, and a wonderful group of participants,” said Springfield College graduate student Renée deLisser, who along with McAnulty helped organize this year’s program. “In a week, all of the participants lives are transformed in some way by the magical memories made during Winter C.A.M.P. As a graduate student in my last academic semester, this week allowed me to use all the knowledge I have gained in a real-life application.”
deLisser added, “There were trials and errors and I learned more than I could have in the classroom alone. I was able to work with a participant, build a rapport, and discover what services I could provide to make my participant's experience wonderful. It was not easy, but I feel I have grown so much from this journey and will be a better occupational therapist as a result.”
The annual Winter C.A.M.P. program has increased in the number of participants each year, with members of the campus community collaborating together to make this camp a huge success.
“As a community engaged learning project that includes young adults with disabilities from the surrounding community, as well as our Springfield College community, it is always a big undertaking,” said McAnulty. “College is a community where young adults engage in more than academic learning, they also make friends, learn new things about themselves, and learn about being on their own as adults. This experience couldn't happen without the greater Springfield College community, and we are very grateful to the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, Aramark, Wellness and Recreation, the Learning Commons, East Campus, Residential Life, Facilities, Transportation, and all the others who helped make this a great week.”
Springfield College is an independent, nonprofit, coeducational institution founded in 1885. Approximately 4,100 students, including 2,500 full-time undergraduate students, study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its regional campuses across the country. Springfield College inspires students through the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy – educating in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.