To celebrate the journeys and successes that our SMart Center families have with this life-changing weekend, we gathered a list of 101 things that campers (kids, tweens, and teens!), parents, and the family as a whole can expect from a CommuniCamp™ weekend. The items on this list were provided to us directly by parents who have previously participated in the program, SMart Center clinical staff, and CommuniCamp™ counselors.

As a reminder, to signup for an upcoming CommuniCamp™ Program, please visit www.CommuniCamp.org. There you will find:

  • Dates and registration for our upcoming 2020 programs
  • Enrollment Process
  • Cost and insurance policy information
  • Reviews/testimonials
  • Lodging Info
  • How it Works
  • FAQs

Without further ado, here are 101 Things to Experience at CommuniCamp™:

For Parents/Family:

  1. Parents will bond and make unique connections with other families. Experience a sense of unity and community by meeting other parents who have similar experiences.
  2. Parents partake in-depth education and training sessions all day, every day. Parents receive 5 hours/day of education. You are the ones who are with your child day-to-day. Your education of S-CAT® strategies is critical to success!
  3. Experience many “light bulb moments.” Even if you’ve been following the SMart Center, have read our books and watched our webinars, there are countless concepts you will learn and understand from CommuniCamp™.
  4. Hear from parents of children/teens who previously suffered from SM and have overcome it using S-CAT® programs. Listen to their treatment journey, success, and ask them specific questions! Spend time mingling with them after the session.
  5. Families will have the opportunity to implement strategies and then discuss their experiences each day in parent group with expert clinical staff.
  6. Families will feel empowered gaining first-hand knowledge and advice from our world-renowned expert and pioneer in the field of Selective Mutism, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum.
  7. CommuniCamp™ provides a safe space for parents examine their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to make some meaningful life changes that allow parents to be even stronger allies and advocates for their kids.
  8. Parents will gain confidence and tools to continue their treatment journey after they leave CommuniCamp™.
  9. Understand that avoiding stressful, anxiety-provoking situations is not the answer; learn to leverage every opportunity in a way that is helpful with respect to your child’s unique needs.
  10. Parents will learn how to educate their school and discuss strategies to share with their teachers.
  11. Learn how to utilize the Social Communication Bridge® concept as it pertains to your specific camper; understand different situations yield different stages on the Bridge.
  12. Families can visit the onsite playground in the afternoons to facilitate new friendships.
  13. Feel safe, in good company, and optimistic about the future.
  14. Parents can help you camper create a journal before your trip. Scrapbook your child’s drawings/papers/journals and pieces of your own experience and continue to add to your CommuniCamp™ scrapbook during your journey—make it a collaborative process!
  15. Parents can spend time during lunch and allotted networking time to share stories and current challenges with other parents in their group. Parents should take advantage of this time because it will be a great opportunity to build a strong support system.
  16. Parents can try “thorns & roses” with your child after each day: share one thing that was hard (one thorn) and one thing that was easy (one rose) for you on each day, then ask your camper to do the same.
  17. Opportunities for social engagement and communication are endless! Find a way to practice and integrate activities on your way home from CommuniCamp™ each day.
  18. Parents receive multiple relevant handouts, goals, webinars, and additional supplemental material and guided to educate and share with friends, family, teachers, etc.
  19. Parents are encouraged to save their camper’s daily report cards and keep them somewhere special when you get home so your child can remember their progress.
  20. Parents should make your own Social Communication Bridge® and Feelings Chart when you get home and hang them on the fridge next to your child’s, so they know you are with them every step of the way.
  21. Parents are encouraged to brainstorm three new “ice breakers” each lunch to share with other parents.
  22. Families can exchange contact information with each other to maintain connections outside of CommuniCamp™.
  23. Parents will learn about medication and diet/nutrition and how these factors affect the treatment of Selective Mutism.
  24. Parents will practice interventions/strategies while having fun with their family in the Philadelphia Area!
  25. Parents can ask questions from the highly experienced staff.
  26. Set goals and achieve them.
  27. Families can visit the Liberty Bell.
  28. Parents will role play with each other under the direction and guidance of SMart Center clinical staff to understand how their children are feeling and to better understand how to achieve goals and strategies.
  29. Families can visit Reading Terminal Market while they are in the Philadelphia Area.
  30. Parents will learn how to be their child’s best advocate in different ways that will benefit their journey across the Social Communication Bridge®.
  31. Families learn that it is OK (and NORMAL) to feel scared!
  32. Go shopping for helpful, relatable books and products.
  33. Experience the city of Philadelphia and its rich history. Take a run up the Art Museum steps like “Rocky”!
  34. Families will meet and pet our SMart pug, “Lil Girl.”
  35. Families can go out to dinner with new friends they make at CommuniCamp™!
  36. Families can visit Legoland!
  37. Take a picture of your child on the Social Communication Bridge®.
  38. Families can come early one morning and have their camper give them a CommuniCamp™ tour.
  39. After you leave, CommuniCamp™ is not over! Learn how the SMart Center can provide individualized guidance to continue the progression of communication after your family participates in the program.
  40. Parents will learn from other parents by hearing questions they might not have thought of and experts sharing answers.
  41. Feel less alone in this journey!
  42. Parents will see the improvement of their own comfort and initial apprehension on Day 1 to seeing and hearing so much conversation and laughter from connecting and learning from each other by Day 3.

 

Campers:

  1. Campers will see and hear themselves communicating in an environment which might have previously been particularly challenging, which will translate to self-confidence/self-esteem in their daily lives after they leave.
  2. To overcome SM, it is important to bring awareness to, acknowledge, and assess their feelings. This is why our campers will write a list of things that are hard for them to do (e.g. talking in school) and a list of things they would like to work on at CommuniCamp™ so they have goals/objectives to keep in mind throughout the weekend.
  3. On the last day of CommuniCamp™, campers will create a list of strategies that were useful for them (i.e. Feelings Chart, the Social Communication Bridge®, Sounds-to-Words, etc.) and a list of things that they are proud of (i.e. using my words with other peers, ordering at a restaurant, etc.).
  4. Teens learn to challenge and replace negative, anxiety-provoking thoughts that get in the way of successful social communication. Tackling self-defeating thoughts allows teens to reframe previously anxiety-provoking situations, try new behaviors, and experience social communication success.
  5. Campers/families may expand relationships beyond CommuniCamp™—become pen pals and continue to keep each other motivated and communicate after the program ends!
  6. Campers will learn to use the S-CAT® Script Approach to pre-plan and minimize time to think and process.
  7. Campers learn about the Feelings Chart, which is a tool they can use to visualize their emotions without judging them. They learn that emotions are valid and temporary, which empowers them to pay attention to their emotions and understand two things: 1.) how emotions affect their socialization and 2.) how they can work through those emotions with the courage they already possess.
  8. Take some movement breaks with another peer group providing a slightly larger group environment to help progress more in a laid-back way.
  9. Kids will experience their parents learning and stepping outside of their comfort zones too!
  10. Campers will witness their own abilities grow, by coming back each day to discuss, learn, and practice the very thing that they fear.
  11. Campers can play “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me.”
  12. Your child/teen with Selective Mutism and/or social communication anxiety will make the realization that they are not alone and leave CommuniCamp™ feeling understood!
  13. Teens make specific action plans to use in their daily lives to help with ordering, initiating questions, and social events.
  14. Our CommuniCamp™ counselors are trained to role-play as waitstaff and implement S-CAT® strategies to address this ‘real-world scenario’—no matter what Stage of Communication a camper is in! We’ll work to increase comfortability, hence communication!
  15. Teens will recognize they are not alone—that others their age are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings!
  16. Campers work on S-CAT® strategies in a fun, low-pressure way and cross the Social Communication Bridge® without even realizing it!
  17. Teens work on practicing social skills in a safe, laid-back environment, including how to make and keep conversations going.
  18. Campers will play games that promote social communicate to comfortably cross the bridge to verbal communication.
  19. Campers will make friends.
  20. Campers learn there’s much more to communication than “talking.” They learn their strengths, what makes them happy, and how to use this to build comfort wherever they go!
  21. Campers will interact with kids their own age who struggle to get their words out and they realize that they are not alone.
  22. Teen campers learn the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how to reframe them to reduce anxiety.
  23. Learn about your counselors and other campers by practicing polling questions.
  24. Play “Headbandz.”
  25. During snack and meal breaks, campers will utilize communication skills to practice engaging in fun lunch time games with buddies and counselors to replicate “lunch/bunch” or “lunch-n-learn” opportunities that may take place within the school environment.
  26. Younger campers use art therapy to create beautiful self-esteem flowers which encourage focus on positive attributes.
  27. Get moving and wind down with “GoNoodle” videos.
  28. Campers will have the opportunity to be around other children with SM who are their same age with many opportunities to help each other.
  29. Campers will feel confident to “cross the bridge” using S-CAT based strategies.
  30. Campers are encouraged to make new friends while playing games and activities in an actual school that the SMart Center rents out for this event!
  31. Practice store exposures.
  32. Teen Campers will build the self-confidence to make new friends, stand-up for themselves and participate in social conversations.
  33. When appropriate, some campers will learn to use sounds to respond to questions (i.e. P sound for pink). Focusing on sounds provides less expectation because they are focusing on the sound rather than the word. This S-CAT® strategy is not appropriate for every child/teen with SM but that is what makes CommuniCamp™ so unique/special—we know when and with whom to use certain strategies to achieve individual success.
  34. Younger campers will play fun games with older campers! The younger children look up to the older kids/teens as a role model. This also gives the older kids/teens the ‘BIG SHOT’ role and provides them with more confidence and comfort!
  35. Campers will create Action Plans. An Action Plan is a useful tool because it prepares us to think about who will be at an event, what questions may be asked to us and what questions we could ask others. Being prepared is a key to overcoming SM and alleviates anxiety because we know what to expect.
  36. Campers share worries and fears and express themselves in a setting that feels safe and comfortable.
  37. Teen campers experience familiarity and practice with job interviews.
  38. Go grocery shopping in our SMart Center Grocery Store.
  39. Take a picture on the Social Communication Bridge®.
  40. Get yourself a colorful SMart Center “Big 5” Bracelet!
  41. Campers learn to identify their feelings and how certain situations are scarier than others. Not only does it help them identify their own emotions, but they learn they’re not alone!
  42. Going to the onsite grocery store is a perfect opportunity for campers to plan their meal, practice nonverbal and verbal communication, and work with other campers in a group. Plus, the campers are too busy having fun to notice they are practicing crossing the bridge!
  43. By creating their own “Self-Esteem Shields,” the campers learn there’s much more to communication than “talking.” They learn their strengths, what makes them happy, and how to use this to build comfort wherever they go!
  44. Teens get to hang out with people their own age, who have similar experiences.
  45. Campers will strengthen their self-identity by identifying themselves with other members in the group.
  46. Campers will practice going to a store (on-site) and purchasing items with the help from trained counselors.
  47. Teens learn about mindfulness, practice it daily, and identify how and when to use it in their daily lives.
  48. Teens will help the younger campers cross the Social Communication Bridge® while practicing their own goals!
  49. Campers will practice interviewing one another (using S-CAT® strategies based on their own unique baseline stage of social communication) and learn about each other’s interests.
  50. Campers will work on identifying specific goals (also referred to as “games” for our younger campers) to work on during and after CommuniCamp™.
  51. Campers will decorate their CommuniCamp™ “swag bag” while counselors facilitate this activity using S-CAT® strategies like Handover/Takeover™.
  52. Campers will learn and practice using the “Big 5”: Hi, Bye, Yes, No, Thanks.
  53. Campers select cool prizes from the Prize Shop at the end of every day.
  54. Take a picture with your group under your group banner.
  55. Campers create fun arts and crafts projects that promote social communication that can be displayed at home.
  56. Campers learn techniques to help themselves when they experience something scary to them.
  57. Campers will make and eat a “sweet treat” together one day using groceries they shop for.
  58. Younger campers are encouraged to bring in a special toy on Day 3 to Show and Tell.
  59. Feel understood and empowered.

If you are considering enrolling your family in an upcoming CommuniCamp™ Intensive Group Treatment & Parent Training Program with the SMart Center and would like more information, visit www.CommuniCamp.org, email CommuniCamp@SelectiveMutismCenter.org or call 215-887-5748! 

To effectively overcome Selective Mutism and all anxieties, an individual needs to be involved in a treatment program, such as those rooted in evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), like Individualized Intensives and CommuniCamp. Developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, this holistic or “whole-person” treatment approach is designed to reduce anxiety, build self-esteem, increase social comfort and communication in all settings.

As a physician, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum (“Dr. E”) views SM as a social communication anxiety where mutism is merely a symptom. The key to an effective treatment plan is understanding factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of SM as well as understanding a child’s baseline stage of social communication on the Social Communication Bridge®. Then, working as a team, the treatment professional, parents, and school staff members help the child build coping skills to combat anxious feelings and to progress across the Social Communication Bridge©.