Camp Chatterbox, sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, NJ, is a weeklong overnight camp for children and young adults, ages 5-22, who use technology such as iPads with AAC Apps, Eye-Gaze devices or Tobii/DynaVox or PRC devices to communicate. Camp Chatterbox offers three unique programs – a Family Program for children ages 5 – 15, a Transitional Program for campers 15 - 22 who need support in advancing to an independent camper and an Independent Camper Program for teens and young adults ages 15-22. All Campers must be able to participate in the program without requiring one-on-one behavioral support. Founded in 1991 by Joan Bruno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Camp Chatterbox gives campers an opportunity to interact with others who use AAC systems while learning to use their AAC device across a range of age and socially appropriate activities. Camp Chatterbox is a recipient of the Eleanor P. Eells Award for Pogram Excellence from the American Camping Association and the 1993 Program of the Year Award from the New Jersey Speech-Language and Hearing Association.
Camp Chatterbox uses the facilities of Camp Oakhurst located in Monmouth County, New Jersey. It can be easily reached from Newark Airport (EWR) and is close to the Elberon Station of the NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line. Camp Oakhurst's 15-acre facility is barrier-free and includes 12 totally accessible buildings to accommodate all Chatterbox program activities. Camp Oakhurst is close to the beach, the boardwalk, and other area attractions of the New Jersey Shore. 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, arts/crafts area, and a computer lab.
Each year a motivating theme provides the framework for therapeutic and recreational activities. Therapy activities are led by state licensed and ASHA Certified Speech-Language Pathologists and/or special education teachers. They are designed to facilitate AAC device use throughout the day as well as to help build expressive language and critical thinking skills in a fun and functional environment. During a typical day at Chatterbox, a camper will be involved in a range of activities to promote communication and peer interaction. In addition, recreational activities include swimming, nature and sports. Campers are grouped with children of similar ages and abilities. At lunchtime campers have an opportunity to use their devices to make announcements to all campers, parents and staff. This provides an excellent opportunity for initiated communication. Each evening, siblings, parents, and staff join the campers as they participate in activities such as campfires, dances and team activities. Camp typically ends with an “All-Camp Talent Show”.
If you know of anyone who you think may benefit from Camp Chatterbox, please direct them to this website or have them contact CampChatterbox@gmail.com for futher information.