Training will consist of several different parts.
Overview of assignments related to the
courses in which you are enrolled
Overview of camp/campers/activities
Thank you for participating in this year’s
Camp Soaring Eagle. Please note that
students who have participated in camp in
past semesters have had an overwhelmingly
positive response to the camp experience
and campers and their families have truly
benefitted from UMW’s involvement.
Think you don’t need to experience this type
of training? We bet you’ll reconsider this
idea at the end of camp. It is a wonderful
way for teachers to experience kids with
disabilities without the pressures of SOLs or
large classrooms and to see them working
on different skills such as social skills.
Everyone, whether you already have a
degree in Special Ed (or a Ph.D. even),
learns more from working with the children
Because children with disabilities are all
different, the more exposure and
opportunities you give yourself to work with
these kids, the better teacher you will be for
We can all learn from each other throughout
Designed for kids with disabilities
whose parents are enrolled in the
Exceptional Family Member Program.
UMW students design and run the camp
using play-based approaches.
A low counselor to camper ratio allows
children (ages 4-13) to enjoy a positive
camp experience that is developed with
their individual special needs in mind.
Camp is a great way to do a practical assignment over the summer!
Why be stuck inside doing homework when you can have fun
working with kids!
EDSE 531 - students will be observing and working with children
with a variety of disabilities as discussed in the course. Camp
provides you with some training in working with children who
have various needs and the opportunity to observe various
accommodations/modifications. You will complete your
assignment based on your volunteer hours at camp.
ITEC 531 - students will use the opportunity to observe and
work with children with a variety of disabilities and
complete an assignment where they discuss, design, and
evaluate appropriate assistive technology (no tech, low and
high) that would support these children in camp, school,
and other settings.
I learned so much from this
I was scared to work with kids
with disabilities at first, but this
was a great way to learn they
are a lot like other kids.
Thank you for giving me the
opportunity to work with kids I
wouldn’t normally have in
class. I am a better teacher
because of this experience.
Please, please keep Camp
Soaring Eagle going every year.
Camp Soaring Eagle was the
highlight of my training in
special education at UMW.
You mean he really can
My son made a friend. I
have to get that kid’s
This has been such a
positive experience for my
I had no problem leaving
my child. You can tell the
program is run by
This is the only camp my
child has been able to be
successful in. Thank you!
E-w-w, we loved the
Can I do this all
My favorite part was
We’re all friends here.
Using a play-based approach (modified Floortime
strategy). It’s summer, so we’re going to stop the
academic focus and work on the communication
skills which support all areas of a child’s life.
Now let’s discuss how all of this is
accomplished through various camp roles.
◦ Camp Coordinators
◦ Cart Volunteers
◦ UMW CGPS Students
◦ EFMP folks
Develop, plan, and coordinate camp activities and
requirements (this begins in January!).
Supervise check-in/check-out process and liaison with
Supervise use of elementary school and maintain positive
relationship with summer school principal.
Open the school. Survey rooms for safety. Do final checks at
the end of the day before closing down school.
Supervise counselor and camp activities.
Inform counselors of any changes made to daily schedule.
Coordinate with EFMP Coordinators and Quantico Elementary
School for physical requirements for the camp.
Liaison with other outside agencies as required.
Cart volunteers will be rotating to present a
structured activity in music, art, science, and
reading circle for the campers.
Every classroom will have the opportunity to
participate in each cart activity (music, art, science,
reading) throughout the morning schedule. The
activity cart schedule will be given to all the
counselors in advance.
Counselors will clean up the classroom after the
activity as volunteers will be rotating to other
There are of course, some rules for campers
First and foremost - make it FUN!
Know your campers – who they are and what type
of support they need.
Ensure the safety of the campers at all times.
Be flexible – adapt and improvise.
Keep the lines of communication flowing (with
other counselors/staff as well as with the
Watch and listen – teachable moments abound!
If in doubt, ASK FOR ASSISTANCE!
Did we mention to make it FUN?
Attire is important. Volunteers represent UMW. You will
need to maintain a professional appearance and be
nicely groomed. No tight pants, tight jeans, or
short/tight shorts. You are allowed to wear shorts, but
please wear walking shorts (close to the knees). Please
no jeans with holes in them. No baseball caps. No flip-
flops/sandals. You will be bending over working with
campers-make sure no undergarments can be viewed.
Wear sneakers, dress comfortably, but be covered and
clean! It is necessary that parents feel comfortable
leaving their children with you and what you wear is
Wear your camp t-shirt daily.
The safety and well-being of your campers is your
What a person has not who a person is. Use
People First Language always.
Respect the confidentiality of campers at all times!
◦ Do not discuss any issues involving the campers
in front of other campers or parents.
◦ Do not discuss any camp issues outside of camp
◦ Make sure you have two Counselors in the
classrooms at all times.
Counselors should remain with the
group and in the classroom/location.
Use any free time you may have to
collaborate/plan with the members of
Counselors stand outside the door of
the bathroom as children use the
restroom. In the event that there is a
child who needs assistance, call on
the coordinators for help.
Notify a coordinator of any crisis or
emergency in your class
Be positive and encouraging!
Never physically restrain a child. If there
is an issue where a child might hurt
him/herself or others, immediately call a
coordinator and remove the OTHER
students from the activity. By removing
the reinforcement of other children
(audience), the agitated child will often
Remember to communicate with the other
counselors in your classroom. Talk about
what is going on and any concerns that
you may have.
1:1 with kids
encouraging them to
interact with other
counselors, toys, and
around or talking and
watching the kids do
stuff on their own. We
want you interacting
the entire day with the
kids (you should be
EXHAUSTED from all of
Counselor Rules from Ashurst Elementary
NOTHING ON WALLS!
No children/staff behind the stage.
Counselors must wear badges. Bring in ID card
and use lanyard.
Do NOT give Ashurst Elementary School number
out to parents to call. Have EFMP give their cell
Can use hallway bathroom.
No use of Room 12 or 16.
No children in room 17 except for when doing
No use of phone in office. If you need to make a
phone call, use your cell at our counselor station.
Tables in room and bathroom must be cleaned at
the end of each day. Put trash out for janitor.
There are particular doors that they would like
use to use (the back and side door) so we are not
creating traffic near the office.
All counselors meet to coordinate daily activities
and resources at 7 a.m. before the campers arrive.
Review activity schedule for the day – ensure that
materials are in place.
Greet your campers with a smile upon their arrival.
Have warm-up activities in place.
Execute the daily schedule – and adapt and
improvise as needed!
Ensure that your campers have found their
ride home. Share three good things about
each camper with the parents. Parents of
kids with disabilities NEED positive
feedback about their kids!
Prepare your classroom for the next day
before you leave.
Eat a good breakfast because you will be very
active this week and it will help put you into a
positive mood and give you the added energy
you will need!
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes (camp t-
shirts are provided). You will be active and you
will get dirty!
Use visual schedules as needed.
Present the projects in a manner that will
accommodate your campers – think, auditory,
visual, and tactile.
Have samples of various crafts for viewing.
Vary/modify the project to fit the camper’s
special needs or desires as needed.
Prepare the campers for transitions: “In five
minutes we’ll be going to the gym…”.
Don’t forget bathroom breaks for the campers.
Plan breaks for the counselors in your classroom
too, if needed.
Present information both visually and orally.
Explain, then check for understanding (ask
questions); re-explain if necessary.
“Chunk” the information (break it into manageable
Have a few activities available for campers who
We will use a positive behavioral system. Lots of
praise, high fives, etc. Kids with disabilities need to
hear this so much more than the average child.
In the event that a child is misbehaving, make sure
that you have given clear expectations that you
clarify that the child understands, then use a three
warning system (except for aggressive behavior) in
which on the third offense, the child takes a time-
We find that the majority of behavioral issues are
actually unaddressed sensory issues (either
overstimulation, or under stimulation). Use the
SECRET Strategy to determine if this issue is
A=Attention. Is there a way to draw the student’s attention AWAY from
S=Sensation. Is there a sensation that is alarming to the student? If so,
how can it be modified? Can I use another sensation to override it?
E=Emotion. What emotion is the student experiencing and what
techniques do I know that work best when they feel this way?
C=Culture. What part of the school culture can be changed to avoid
situations like this in the future?
R=Relationship. Is there something in the student’s relationship with me
or someone else right now that’s causing them to act this way? What can I
do about it?
E=Environment. What in the environment is setting my student off? How
can I change it?
T=Task. What is troubling my student about the task at hand? How can
the task be modified to not be so problematic for the child? Is there
another task I can sub in that will provide a calming influence?
Ask the camper if they would like to meet the dog. If they do,
walk over to see him with your camper.
Let the campers know that the dogs are visiting them at camp
because they love kids and they have attended other camps
Ask your camper if they would like to pet the dogs or give
them a treat (handler will have treats).
If a camper seems hesitant about approaching the dogs, try
to talk to them about a pet they love or just stay where they
can watch the dogs interacting with the other kids.
Sometimes it takes a few minutes for some children to feel
If a camper says that they are afraid or do
not want to pet a dog, that’s okay too.
Have the camper just watch the other kids
interacting and talk to them about what
they are observing (ex: “Look at the dog’s
white coat” or “see Sally feeding him a
treat….he must be hungry”).
Remind the campers to pet the dogs
gently. No grabbing or pulling, etc. Some
campers may find it helpful to be shown
how to pet, brush, feed a treat (the
handler will assist with demonstrations
A parent has a concern about animal therapy dogs visiting at
Reassure the parent that the dogs have been working as
volunteers for a long time and have worked at camps,
hospitals, nursing homes, hospice houses, and private
The dogs have worked with kids, teens, seniors, the
terminally ill, and all types of disabilities.
The dogs are trained and certified therapy dogs.
If a question/concern comes up that you are not sure about,
ask the dog’s handler to speak to that parent or ask a
If a camper is fearful of dogs, they do not have to participate
and they can watch the activity at a comfortable distance.
A play-based educational approach, which
incorporates the use of toys and other
highly motivating objects to help children
attend, communicate and participate.
Developed by Stanley Greenspan, Floortime
is the result of studying typically
developing children and has been adapted
to use with children with communication
difficulties, such as speech disabilities,
developmental delays, ADHD, and Autism.
Follow the child’s lead. Do what is interesting to him/her
but work hard to be exciting to the child. Make him/her
want to talk with you, be near you, etc.
Help extend their conversation or their stories with
prompts. Such as: Oh, where would your fireman go?
Which do you want? Can you give me more?
If they are playing with another child and the play goes flat,
help them. “Oh, Johnny, do you think we should see if
Sarah wants the bus to stop and pick her up? Sarah where
is the bus taking you?”
No matter what, YOU keep talking. Describe, show, explain,
give choices, etc.
If the student isn’t paying attention to you either change
toys OR do something sensory (walk, bubbles, stomp
During Free Play…
We will provide activities for the children to
choose from. Stay with the child. Focus on
communication b/n children and b/n you
and the child. Encourage attention and
communication (gestures, signs, pointing,
PECS, words, sentences, etc.)
As a reminder, Counselors should be working
1:1 with kids, not standing watching. This
may be the MOST important part of their
day at camp!
Please read the document about Floortime/play
based activities information provided before
camp to better prepare yourself to work with
the kids. If you have any questions, please
contact Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next section
you may encounter
A camper feels ill:
Try to determine what’s wrong.
Try to redirect the camper to take their mind off
Make the camper as comfortable as possible.
Is there something in the classroom that is causing
the discomfort (noise/sounds/smells)? Try to
remove the source if possible. Improvise to help
the camper cope and participate as fully as they
Escort the child to the nurse.
Notify a coordinator if the illness seems serious.
A camper (or counselor) gets hurt:
Do not take any chances with an injury.
Have a coordinator/counselor take the
camper to the military medical staff.
Complete an incident form.
If the injury affects the campers’ ability to
walk or maintain balance, do not try to
move the camper. Have the injured camper
remain seated and immediately send a
counselor to get the nurse and then notify a
A camper arrives after having a rough night:
Try to get the camper involved in an activity to take their
mind off of the problem.
De-escalate the situation by trying to redirect the camper to
participate in the activity at hand. Try not to reinforce the
negative feelings by talking about it too much. Try to keep
the camper moving towards participating and having fun!
Clarify behavioral expectations.
Take a walk to burn off any extra energy/anxiety.
Allow the camper some free activity time to settle down, or
involve the camper in helping a younger group for a few
minutes (sometimes helping others takes the focus off of the
Notify a coordinator if you cannot persuade the camper to
participate in some way.
A disability prevents full participation:
Emphasize the camper’s strengths and abilities! Be
creative if an activity needs to be adapted.
Assist the camper in participating as fully as they
can by modifying the parts of the activity that they
are struggling with.
This is a good time for offering a choice – ask the
camper about the type of support they feel they
need. Offer a suggestion if they are struggling.
A camper misses their parent:
Try to redirect the camper with an activity,
book, or toy. Work hard to get them
involved with the group activity!
Have the camper write a note/draw a
picture for Mom and Dad to see when come
back to pick up.
Ask parents for a digital picture that their
child can keep with them.
A parent won’t leave:
Reassure the parent of their child’s well-being at the camp. Explain
that the majority of the camp counselors are seasoned teachers –
and parents themselves.
Empathize: “I have young children and understand how hard it is to
let go sometimes.”
Share the schedule with the parent, so they can feel comfortable
knowing their child will be having fun.
If a parent continues having difficulty, tell them that a coordinator
can touch base and offer an update for them to alleviate their
fears/concerns. Get parent’s cell phone number.
A short visit to the class may alleviate their concerns on the first day
of camp, but try to use the other suggestions first. It would be
difficult to accommodate every parent in this way and this often
upsets other campers.
Contact a coordinator for assistance if needed.
You see bullying occurring:
Be responsive. Take the appropriate steps
to intervene. Get assistance if you need it.
Stop and listen to the affected child. Take
complaints of bullying seriously.
Restate the behavior expectations to all
Notify the coordinators if additional
guidance is needed.
A camper asks why something/someone looks different:
Explain the difference to the camper in understandable terms (ex.
“John can’t hear as well as you or I can. His hearing aid helps him to
hear like us” or Susan hasn’t learned to talk yet, but she can answer
us with her pictures.”
Explain that people can be different/unique and that it is okay.
Encourage campers to learn more about them, be kind to them, and
to include them in their activities. Have them ”walk in their shoes”.
Every person is unique and each one of us has individual needs and
abilities. Use examples campers can relate to: some people are tall
and some are short; some people have dark skin and some have
light skin. They use a wheelchair to get around.
Remind the campers that EVERYONE likes to be included, accepted
A camper says “I hate this”:
This almost always means that the child is
stumped or frustrated – find the source for
Take the time to work with them 1:1.
If the task is too hard/easy, find an
alternate activity or see if they can work
with another camper.
Flexible + fun