About Camp Chatterbox

*Please note - due to COVID-19 restrictions, this program is subject to change between in-person and virtual/online program. Please contact us with any questions at 908-301-5548 or email us at CampChatterbox@childrens-specialized.org. 

Camp Chatterbox is a one week overnight camp for children and young adults, ages 5-22, who use synthesized Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. All campers participate in a range of social, recreational, and educational activities to promote use of their communication systems and interact with other children. Therapy activities are led by licensed and ASHA Certified Speech-Language Pathologists, special education teachers, recreational therapists, and other qualified professionals.  Activities facilitate AAC device use throughout the day, and help build expressive language and critical thinking skills in a fun and functional environment. In addition, recreational activities include swimming, nature exploration, art, and sports. Each evening, campers, siblings, parents, and staff gather for activities such as campfires, dances, and a camp talent show. 

Location: Rising Treetops at Oakhurst in Monmouth County

Rising Treetops at Oakhurst's 15-acre facility is barrier-free and includes 12 totally accessible buildings to accommodate all Chatterbox program activities. It has a heated swimming pool with a retractable roof.  There is a children’s ball field, a campfire site, gymnasium, recreation hall, media arts room, and arts & crafts area. Rising Treetops at Oakhurst can be easily reached from Newark Airport (EWR) and is close to the Elberon Station of the NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line.  Rising Treetops at Oakhurst is close to the beach, the boardwalk, and other area attractions of the New Jersey Shore. 

2021 Dates: August 22 - 28, 2021

Camper Criteria:

  • Children and youth 5-22 years old who communicate using AAC systems such as eye gaze accessible speech generating devices, tablets with communication apps, etc.
  • Campers must be able to participate in therapy and recreation activities without requiring one-to-one behavioral support.

Programs

Family Program

Parents & siblings join the AAC campers for a week-long family camp experience. The whole family shares cabins with other families. Parents connect with each other for support and also receive training from Speech & Language Pathologists. Siblings participate fully in all recreational activities of camp.

Independent Camper Self-Advocacy Program

Youth between 15-22 years old who are linguistically competent using an AAC device are encouraged to attend this program without their family. These campers can benefit from activities that help build critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and advanced pragmatic abilities. Depending upon their skills and goals, campers in this independent program may have the opportunity to serve as a mentor for younger campers enrolled in the Family Program. Campers have the opportunity to use their AAC devices to communicate with unfamiliar listeners, direct their care and advocate for their needs.  They learn to accept responsibilities for their schedule and build leadership skills.  There are also plenty of opportunities for just plain old fun!

Independent/Self-Advocacy Camper personal care information:

  • Campers may choose to bring their own personal care assistant (PCA) or elect to receive care from a camp counselor. Those coming with their own PCA only need to pay an additional $250 which covers the PCA’s room and board.  
  • Independent camper personal care levels:
    • Level 1: Independent in all aspects of personal care
    • Level 2: Able to feed self but requires support for dressing, toileting & mobility
    • Level 3: Totally dependent for all self-care, but independent in navigating mobility
  • A Camp nurse is on duty to administer medications and address routine healthcare issues.

Therapeutic Activities

Language Groups: Campers are grouped according to age and abilities:

  • Beginning AAC device users: able to engage in play activities and use their device to answer questions using a 1 or 2 symbol response. 
  • Intermediate users: able to form 3-4 word messages.
  • Advanced user: capable of more complex syntactic abilities and need to address critical thinking and/or pragmatic language goals. 

Therapeutic Recreation Activities: Recreational activities are provided to all campers & siblings throughout the day, and to all families in the evening. These developmentally-appropriate activities are provided by camp counselors under the supervision of recreational therapists and speech therapists to help carry over learning goals. Activities include but are not limited to arts & crafts, swimming, sports, social games, nature activities, music, and more.

Registration & Fees

Camp fees are divided into two components: a therapy fee and a camp fee. The therapy fee covers activities that promote AAC device use. The camp fee includes room and meals, bedding, use of the camp’s facilities and personal care staff for independent campers.

Please note:

  • Children’s Specialized Hospital does not bill insurance companies for this camp fee.
  • Families must submit a School/Agency Contract Form if a third party agency plans to pay the fees.
  • Camperships (financial assistance) are available based on demonstrated need. Contact CampChatterbox@childrens-specialized.org to request financial support.

Registration

Registration for Summer 2021 will open January 2-April 30, 2021.

Register Online: Campers will be notified of acceptance within 30 days of application submission. 
 
 

Camp Staff and Professional Training Opportunities

Camp Counselors

Counselors may apply to work at one of three levels of service:

Volunteers:
Work in conjunction with the therapy staff during daily therapy activities. They will assist with transitioning between activities, leading the campers in songs, assisting with serving and clean-up for meals, and participating in activities. Interested volunteers must be 15 years old and older to apply. For volunteer opportunities, please contact the Volunteer Manager at volunteers@childrens-specialized.org and

Counselor:
Work in conjunction with therapy staff during therapy activities. They play a lead role in engaging campers during daily activities to maximize the use of their communication devices.  Counselors also assist in transitioning with campers to activities, leading the campers in songs, assisting with serving and clean-up for meals, and participating in activities. Interested counselors must be 18 years old and older to apply. 

Click here to download application, and submit it to campchatterbox@childrens-specialized.org.

Personal Care Counselor:
 support the needs of campers in the Independent Camper Program who require minimal to total care for their Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), including feeding, dressing, and toileting. PCCs are also actively involved in recreational and social activities. Interested personal care counselors must be 18 years old and older to apply.

Click here to download application, and submit it to campchatterbox@childrens-specialized.org.

AAC Fellow Program

Camp Chatterbox provides a specialized AAC Fellow Program which targets professionals seeking to enhance their skills in the application of technology to children with severe communication disabilities. Speech-Language Pathologists, Special Educators, and other professionals working in the field of AAC may apply.  Preference is given to candidates who have had some experience in working with children with physical disabilities using AAC systems. Applicants should be flexible, have lots of stamina, be a team player, and possess a sense of humor and adventure. All participants will receive full accommodations during camp and a certificate of attendance documenting up to 40 Professional Development hours.

Submit AAC Fellow Application to CampChatterbox@childrens-specialized.org.