MUSKOGEE -- Cameron Hughes has had two weeks deducted from his summer vacation, but the Broken Bow native couldn’t be happier about that investment.
Hughes is among 70 Oklahoma youth with visual disabilities who are taking part in a two week summer camp at the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee that melds fun activities with education and life skills training.
“This camp means a lot to me,” said the 17-year-old Hughes. “First of all, I like meeting new people and that is one of the big things I love about it. I love being with my friends. If I wasn’t here, I would probably be sitting at home bored.”
For most camp goers, there is little time to be bored at this summer camp. In one room, students are learning about astronauts fighting muscle atrophy on extended space missions while in another, the comforting smells of cinnamon and butter waft from a fresh stack of monkey bread – a tasty result of teens learning to cook and practicing their kitchen skills.
While Hughes is a student at OSB, Sulphur native Sierra Rankin is not. She attends public schools in her hometown but has been at the camp for the last three years.
“I have made some good friends and learned a few skills along the way,” Rankin said. “They (camp staff) are very good about working with us all, and they teach us something helpful every year.”
Among the life skills being taught are creating a personal budget, fitness, meal planning, orientation and mobility, and nutrition. Alongside the learning, fun activities are peppered in including dances, sports, cookouts, arts and crafts and field trips. Any youth in Oklahoma with a visual disability is welcomed to attend the camp, which has students staying in the OSB dormitory room four days each week before returning home on Fridays. There is no cost for the camp run by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
“I think the large turnout shows that they have fun at this camp and want to be here,” Tracy Brigham, DRS’ VS transition facilitator, said. “The kids have absolutely great attitudes.”
The camp began June 5 and runs through June 17.
OSB is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services , a state agency which assists Oklahomans with disabilities through vocational rehabilitation, education, employment, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits.
OSB was founded in 1897 at Fort Gibson as a private school for children who are blind or visually impaired. Over the past 100 years, the school has provided education programs at no charge for thousands of students with visual disabilities, from students who attend school on campus to those served through outreach programs for families, public school teachers and communities statewide.