Local boy finds voice at stuttering camp August 14, 2010 Summerville Journal Scene When Cameron Cosby went to Camp Our Time two years ago his life changed. His confidence skyrocketed when he learned it’s okay to stutter and met other kids who stutter. All summer he’s been looking forward to attending the sleep-away performing arts camp for the third time. The 12-year-old rising seventh-grader at Gregg Middle School is back in Rock Hill, N.Y. this week at Camp Our Time for stuttering students age eight to 18. He left Sunday to join 52 others from around the world at the weeklong camp. Last year Cameron met campers from as far as Scotland and Ireland. Cameron has attended each year since Camp Our Time started in 2008 with 27 campers. In 2009 it grew to 40. This year the annual camp takes place Aug. 8 – 15. “Camp Our Time is for people who stutter who haven’t seen other people who stutter,” Cameron said. “It makes stutterers feel like they’re at home. They tell us don’t let it bother us. “Before I went to camp I would hardly talk to anyone. I was afraid of stuttering. Now I feel all right to talk . . . it’s okay to stutter.” Activities such as sports, group singing, writing songs and plays and performing them build self-esteem and allow campers to interact in creative ways. Cameron enjoys it all: canoeing in the pond, jumping off a trampoline in the water, playing volleyball, making crafts, songs and plays. “Every morning the staff makes songs . . . On the last day you have to do a play or song. Last year I did a song called ‘Camp Our Time Love’ that me and my friend wrote. It helps me build a lot of confidence. “This is the best summer speech group. We get to have our own groups . . . find things that inspire us to make this song or play.” Cameron’s favorite part of the camp was staying in a cabin and having friends to talk to, he said. There are four cabins divided by age group and gender. “Whenever you’re in the cabin with friends it’s almost like family. The girl cabins are much bigger than the boys.” Camp Our Time is an extension of Our Time Theatre Company, an acclaimed non-profit organization that has been improving the lives of kids who stutter since 2001, according to its founder Taro Alexander, an actor who stutters. Campers are not required to audition and there is no charge for the camp, which is funded by individual contributions, foundations and corporations. “Taro was nice to me,” Cameron said. “He paid for my airline and baggage.” Cameron said he likes to see sunlit trees from the canoe. “It is beautiful up there, but the gnats always get in your face. It’s cooler up there. Whenever it gets hot you can jump in the water.” Cameron said he’s taken speech classes at Flowertown Elementary and GMS, where he’ll take more speech classes this school year. Dorchester District 2 Disabilities Director Toni Cappalletti said stuttering is a speech disorder that students work hard to overcome. There are individual plans to help each child get their education, she said. Stuttering is more common in males, she added. Either a teacher or a parent can recommend that students take classes led by speech therapists, said Carolyn Sires, a DD2 speech therapist. “Anything that gives kids a rhythm in their speech can help with stuttering,” Sires said. “(While) acting and singing they are taking a role outside of themselves. You just try different techniques when you work with that student.” It’s inspirational when kids see people in the public eye overcome their stuttering, Sires said. Cameron’s mother Cati Cosby, also Sweetwater Café’s head cook, said some famous people who stutter are Forest Whitaker, Carole King and Marilyn Monroe, who spoke in a soft whispery voice to avoid stuttering. Cati said the camp has been life changing in building her son’s confidence. “It’s reached out to a lot of kids. Just letting these kids know they’re not alone. Just because you stutter doesn’t mean you’re not able to express yourself.” Cati said Cameron’s favorite food she makes is her homemade pizza.