Registration is open for MTSU’s Inclusive College Experience camp, hosted at the College of Education, for people ages 16 to 25 with intellectual disabilities.
The one-week camp will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 19-23 and offer campers multiple opportunities for activities across campus. Cost is $150.
Tom Black, an associate professor of special education at MTSU who helps coordinate the camp, said the Department of Elementary and Special Education faculty work closely with a lot of teachers and families of students with disabilities in the Murfreesboro area.
“It fills a need to give high school students and young adults with disabilities something to do during their summer break,” Black said. “Oftentimes parents struggle finding fun and constructive activities for their children with disabilities to do when they are not in school.
“It benefits the students, but it can also be a huge help to parents — especially those who work during the day.”
Though the university will be closed Monday, June 19, in observance of the Juneteenth national holiday, Black said the camp will be open for its first day, and organizers have planned some activities to celebrate the holiday.
Those interested in registering can find the application at mtsu.edu/camps listed under the Inclusive College Experience and should complete and submit it by the Monday, June 12, registration deadline.
Black said they last offered similar camps in summers 2018 and 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and are excited to bring the camp back for the community.
“It allows campers to experience what it is like on a college campus and what kind of classes and activities are available to students,” Black said, adding that Dr. Alicia Pence, assistant special education professor, also helps coordinate the camp.
“Campers will get to participate in classes or workshops such photography, dance, theater, agriculture, aerospace and art. They should develop a better understanding of the types of careers that are related to these areas.
“They also get to experience ‘student life’ by being on the campus with MTSU students, spending time in the Student Union and Rec Center, and dining on campus.”
Black said MTSU education students and local high school teachers and students volunteer at the camp, including this year’s camp lead Emily Stock, a special education teacher at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro and an MTSU education alumna.
“I’ve kept in touch with Dr. Black over the years, and I was able to help with camp the last time we had it in 2019,” said Stock, who is from Memphis, Tennessee.
“I love MTSU, and I have a passion for people with disabilities. … It’s special to get to see people who might not have the opportunity otherwise to be able to experience life on a college campus do so.”
Stock said she looks forward to seeing the campers trying new things.
“In past camps, they climbed the rock wall, took theater improvisation classes, had photography lessons, did STEM projects, went to art classes, took a French course for the week, traveled to the MTSU bookstore on the bus and many other activities,” she said.
Stock also said that parents of her special needs students often ask about the availability of postsecondary inclusion programs that run during the school year and are offered by other universities.
“I hope that maybe this summer camp can lead to something like that at MTSU,” she said.
To learn more about the opportunities and special events at MTSU’s College of Education, visit the website at www.mtsu.edu/education or follow the college on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MTSUEducation.
— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu)