Camp Jabiru is modelled after Camp Avanti in the United States; Camp Avanti was developed by Pat and Julia Wilbarger and has been held for approximately the last 30 years. Camp Avanti allows for children with individual differences in sensory processing to have a typical “summer camp” experience. While Australia does not have quite the culture around “summer camp” that the United States does, a camp program provides a unique set of physical and social challenges for children with sensory processing challenges. Therapeutic support during camp activities allows each child to participate and succeed to the “top” of their ability level. The intensive staff to camper ratio allows for each child to have an individualized treatment program that maximizes each child’s camp experience.
2022 will mark Camp Jabiru’s thirteenth year. As with most things in life, Jabiru 2020 was disrupted by COVID-19 and had to be cancelled, and COVID-19 may continue to influence some aspects of camp organization and participation; it is the great unknown!
Jabiru’s charter year was a day camp program for 12 children. In 2010, we programmed for 48 children (aged 4-12) in both day camp and overnight camp programs, and in 2011, we programmed for 96 children, and we have remained between 100-125 campers since that time. The campers will have a variety of “diagnoses” but the common denominator for all the children will be that of challenges with sensory processing. Most of the children will be verbal and have only a mild intellectual disability, if any intellectual disability at all. A few campers with more intensive needs will be part of the camp experience as well. However, the intensive staffing patterns allow us to meld these higher needs campers into a more mainstream group of peers.
In 2017, we added Jabiru 2.0, an “apprenticeship” program for campers who have aged out of Camp Jabiru. Jabiru 2.0 campers take on the challenge of adolescent occupational roles within the camp environment, serving as support workers while still receiving the benefit of the therapeutic milieu. Jabiru 2.0 campers are encouraged, through group processes and individual support, to develop greater capacities for self-reflection and personal achievement.
As occupational therapists, we are very aware that the discrete existence of “sensory processing disorders” has yet to be empirically proven. However, many other diagnoses include disruptions in sensory processing as a defined characteristic. Camp Jabiru does not aim to be a “sensory processing” program for children. Instead, it is an incredible tapestry of all the tools we wield as occupational therapists. It is an amazing opportunity to practice both the art and science of our profession in the most holistic manner imaginable.
Camp is a uniquely rich occupational therapy environment in that it provides the possibility for observing the child in all their occupational roles across a wider variety of experiences. The child at camp is a learner, a player, a friend, and a member of a “family” or a group. By far, the most important of these roles at camp is that of friend. For the most part, these are children who are not successful socially in their typical daily life. It will be the family’s most sincere desire that their child have a friend and be a friend during the week of camp.
Camp also provides the opportunity to observe the child through many of the activities and transitions that accompany a typical “day in the life” of the child as a family member. Being a first-hand witness and support to behaviours around routines such as mealtimes, dressing, toileting, and sleeping and waking (if an overnight camper) allows us to offer much more informed support for the families around these same events at home and school.
In general campers are between 4 & 12 years of age. They are placed into groups of 6-10, dependent upon age and ability, and they are at camp anywhere from 4 hours per day to overnight for 5 days, dependent upon age. Campers have individual differences in sensory processing as a primary therapeutic concern.
Typical camp activities include canoeing, rock climbing, giant swing, crafts, abseiling, caving, games, high and low ropes courses, and a variety of cooperative activities. In general, the younger the camper, the more intensive the OT programming is for activities. The older campers are able to engage in a larger variety of “regular” camp activities as listed above.
Staffing is intensive. There are 2 OTs per group, 2-4 OT students, a practicum OT (an OT in a “learning” role) and a YMCA outdoor education staff member per group. This allows for approximately 1 staff member per 1.5 campers.
OT STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES:
Anything assigned to you by your group leader (so flexibility and the willingness to “go with the flow” are essential)
Implementation of therapeutic techniques
Leading games and activities
1:1 intervention with a child
At least one shift of sleeping overnight in a children’s cabin (OT students must stay overnight at the camp)
At least one shift of dining with an overnight group at dinner and/or breakfast
Set up and clean up of camp each day
Contribution to the daily camp newspaper (several students will need to bring laptop computers to camp – it is a very safe environment for your personal belongings)
Photographic record of each camper’s experience (each student must have a digital camera for use at camp; phones are acceptable as cameras but should otherwise not be in personal use when students are with their camp groups)
BENEFITS TO THE OT STUDENT:
Very hands on experience
Immersion experience into “what is a sensory processing challenge?” and “how do disruptions in sensory processing affect daily life?”
Full spectrum ideological approaches toward meaningful human occupation
Implementation of a full gamut of occupational therapy tools and strategies from an eclectic base, so that individualization of programming needs per child can occur
Access to some of the brightest clinicians in Australia for problem solving and clinical reasoning
COVID-19 permitting, access to master clinicians from Australia and North America
An opportunity to learn a lot about yourself
A WHOLE LOT OF FUN!
OT Student Dates and Logistics
Staff Orientation Day Date: April 9th Location: Camp Yarramundi Time: TBD Meals: Lunch and dinner included with fee Lodging: Included with fee
Camp Week Date: April 10-14th Location: Camp Yarramundi Meals: Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner included with fee Lodging: Included with fee
OT Student Application
Applications will be taken until positions are full. Payment of $200 is required at the time of application, and will be refunded if a space is not available for you. If you have any questions about the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before applying, please read through the OT student expectations. By submitting your application you are agreeing to comply with these expectations.
You will need to complete the following forms to attach to your application: