The lane that leads to Stephanie's compound.

A Bittersweet Reflection on Post-Camp Testing

It’s Sunday, July 30th the height of summer, and it’s a beautiful sunny day at Camp Dunnabeck, nestled between The Berkshires and The Catskills. So, what are we doing today?

Post-Camp Testing

There’s something bittersweet about arriving at a kids’ camp at 8 am on a Sunday and seeing all of the campers lined up for testing. Bittersweet in that most kids are still sleeping, or if they are up this early on a perfect July day, then they are getting ready to go swimming or to do something summer-like. Parents who have a kid with a reading difference have to walk that delicate tightrope of allowing their kid be a kid and giving them enough services so that they don’t fall even further behind; especially true when dealing with long-term retrieval and working memory challenges. Combining services with a typical camp experience is a prime example of why a place like Camp Dunnabeck is so needed. The kids have so much fun that the reading services are a non-issue; at least for us. I wish all kids with reading differences had an option like Camp Dunnabeck.

Doesn’t every child deserve a summer?

So, what is post-camp testing all about, and why are we here on a gorgeous Sunday morning in late July:

1. The tests measure progress after nearly six weeks of intensive services.
2. The data then goes to the home school district for seamless delivery of reading or learning services-in an ideal world of course.
3. While the results of only testing tell a piece of the story, this data can be used to demonstrate how a kid, who progresses gradually or inconsistently, like our daughter, can thrive with the right services delivered with fidelity. Matter of fact, she went up three grade levels in decoding!

The Other Piece of The Story

The other piece of the story is how our Montessori school perceives the child. Each child is different and unique with their strengths and weaknesses. Without saying, many kids with reading differences get hammered in the typical school system. They lose confidence, motivation, and a child who has previously been curious and excited about learning gives up. While testing results are a necessary tool to gauge progress, seeing a kid at Camp Dunnabeck get excited about learning, showing confidence, and gaining maturity I would argue, is just as important as any test result. We are watching our daughter regain her love of learning and enthusiasm this summer. She is happy in this community that accepts each other’s reading differences, and the extra work has become second nature. It is no wonder that so many adults who had reading differences as kids become leaders. These kids work so hard!

I will forever be grateful that my daughter had the best summer of her life, and I will also always remember her running out of the car to join her camp group in the lineup before post-camp testing. She couldn’t wait to be with her friends and start her day. And I cried because I realized that she had no expectations or idea of what it means to have a typical summer; she is happy, and that is what matters.

Stay tuned to hear more about the end of Camp Dunnabeck.

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