Future Reflections Convention Report 1997, Vol. 16 No. 3


Report on the 1997 NFB CAMP

by Carla McQuillan

[PICTURE] These girls represent themix of children who attend NFB Camp: blind kids, sighted siblings, and sighted children of blind parents.

Editor's Note: Carla McQuillan is the owner and operator of Children's Choice Montessori School and Child Care Center in Springfield, Oregon. She is also blind and holds the office of President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon. In addition to her employment and volunteer work with the NFB of Oregon, she donates an incredible amount of time every year as the volunteer Director of NFB Camp, a day care program for children whose parents attend the NFB National Convention. Her talents, energy, and commitment are appreciated by the many families who benefit from this program. Here is her report about the 1997 NFB Camp:

Water fights, trips to the mall, a visit to the Children's Museum, and a ferry ride on the Mississippi were just some of the many activities that kept over 100 blind and sighted kids busy and happy during the 1997 NFB Convention. Called "NFB Camp" this convention day-camp service provided by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children allows parents to take part in the NFB Convention knowing that their children are happy and enjoying the convention, too.

Other activities during the week included: tours of the hotel's glass elevators, excursions to the French Quarter, descriptive video movies, a musical presentation by Daniel Lamond of "Blind Ambition" (a blind performer), outdoor water play, walks through the mall, crafts, and indoor games.

For the first time this year the NOPBC organized a Red Cross Baby-sitting Course which took place at the beginning of the convention. A total of twenty-two teens, half or more of whom were blind, registered for the course. The course was co-taught by local Red Cross volunteers from New Orleans, and by myself (Carla McQuillan—I am also a Red Cross certified instructor). All but two or three of the teens completed the course satisfactorily and received Red Cross certificates. Throughout the week seventeen of these teens (many of them blind) volunteered as interns to assist with NFB Camp. Paired with experienced adult counselors at the NFB Camp, the teens gained valuable training and experience which should later help them get paying jobs back home. The younger kids in the Camp also benefit from this arrangement. They saw, perhaps for the first time, blind teens in a responsible role. It was true "role-modeling" in action!

Many volunteers also helped make the Camp a success, but special thanks go to Corrine Vieville (a blind teacher from California) who planned and provided materials for a week's worth of craft projects for the entire camp.

I look forward to again planning and directing next year's NFB Camp. For those of you interested in planning ahead, here are some dates and preliminary plans for NFB Camp for the 1998 NFB :

Saturday, July 4: For parents: an all-day NOPBC sponsored Parents Seminar. For children: NFB Camp will provide a full day of fun activities centered around learning to appreciate blindness techniques, such as cane travel and Braille. All children, sighted and blind, between the ages of 4 and 12 are welcome. Activities will include cane decorating, making pictures with a Braille slate and stylus, and more. All activities will take place in the hotel-no field trips on this day. Child care will be provided for children under age four.

For youth: A Red Cross Baby-sitting Course and other training and/or social activities.

Monday, July 6: For Parents: Annual Meeting of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. For Children: NFB Camp will sponsor a field trip to a Dallas dude ranch for the day.

Be sure to check the next issue of Future Reflections and upcoming Braille Monitors for more details on the events planned for the 1998 NFB Convention!