Shay Harper came to Children’s Beach House more than 10 years ago, when she was 7 years old, with a speech challenge. As a beach house kid, she came to summer camps and participated in weekend camps approximately once each month. Case managers supported her by building relationships with her mother and her family, and standing by them through all of the ups and downs of elementary school, adolescence, and high school. Case managers partnered with the school staff and worked to make sure her Children's Beach House activities were helping her meet her academic goals.
At the closing camp ceremony this summer, Shay said, “I have been here for 10 years - longer than almost everyone in this room. The people here have changed, but since the beginning, the love has always been here. I got to work as a junior counselor with the little campers this summer, and I was so excited to see the love that was shared with them, just as it was with me. I know I am supposed to be saying goodbye to the Beach House right now, but surprise! I will return someday as a counselor and share the same lessons and love that were given to me.”
An important component of the Children's Beach House program is its camps, in which the children spend two to six weeks over the summer using activities in the water, on the sand and at the house to transcend their difficulties with speech, language and hearing. Children get involved between the ages of 7 and 12 and participate until their high school graduation.
Usually they are at or above the cognitive levels of their peers, but their speech is often difficult to understand. Some may also have trouble with motor skills, making them the last to be picked for teams on the playground - but not at the Beach House. Camp is a place to build productive relationships with peers and caring adults. Shay said, "Children’s Beach House is a place where we all have friends."
Children’s Beach House is a nonprofit started 76 years ago by Lydia Chichester du Pont. In 2003, the organization adopted the Positive Youth Development Model that emphasizes three keys to achievement: first, provide children with a safe and secure environment; second, work alongside parents and entire families; and third, support the individualized education plans provided by teachers. Fully engaged and actively involved parents are critical to a child’s current and future success in school, within their family, and in their future careers.
More information about the Children’s Beach House, its programs and ways to provide support can be found at www.cbhinc.org.