Before Facebook, YouTube, and text messaging, children with hearing loss and their families had the Los Angeles-based House Ear Institute’s Sharing is Caring Family Camp.

In celebrating its’ 25th anniversary, Family Camp continues to be a popular program for many families who have a child with a hearing loss. The camp offers a comfortable forum designed to be a supportive atmosphere that fosters both verbal and sign language communication. It also helps build self-esteem, friendships, and respect for each other’s differences and decisions.

Shortly after the first pediatric cochlear implants took place in 1980, Dr Howard House recognized the need for families with children who had hearing loss to get together to learn and share ideas in a relaxed, safe environment.

"The Institute’s Family Camp is unique in its ability to bring families of all economic and cultural backgrounds and philosophies together in a supportive atmosphere that often results in lifelong friendships and improved communications, both inside and outside the family unit, strengthen communications and encourage influence the child’s development," said Marilee Potthoff, director of community education and outreach at HEI.

"There is no other place around like Family Camp where the kids can let down all of their armor and relax and relate to other kids who have hearing loss," said parent Linda Ward. "We value that each year, we learn something new, and that we can share and learn new things from other families. It is a place that gives parents a level of confidence and security that a child’s needs are being met."

William Luxford, MD, associate House Clinic, is presenting a program for parents on pediatric bilateral cochlear implants.

Also, new this year is a young adult panel discussion for parents to hear how several young people have dealt with their hearing loss and are successful in their careers and personal lives. Panelists include a filmmaker, scientist, college student, and school teachers.

HEI’s Educational Liaison Melinda Gillinger will be presenting a parent workshop titled Does this Education Program Meet Our Needs? The last session for parents on Saturday is a group sharing session that allows parents to talk with each other and a licensed family therapist about similar issues.

Similar to the parent sharing session, the children will have a chance to participate in sharing/communications sessions with their age groups under the direction of a licensed family therapist.

Campers are matched with counselors who use sign language and other modes of communication to optimize the children’s learning and enjoyment. Camp activities include a touch tank presented by the Aquarium of the Pacific, a wildlife discovery program by the Wildlife Waystation, rock climbing and hiking, group sports, rhythm workshops, martial arts, first-aid safety, a concert, and more.

Family Camp will be held at Camp Hess Kramer from June 4 to 6 in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking northern Malibu.

For additional information, visit House Ear Institute’s Web site at or call (213) 483-4431.

This year’s camp is funded by Southern California Edison, Delta Zeta Foundation, Sonance, and the Employees Community Fund of Boeing California. Furthermore, Energizer donates hearing aid and cochlear implant battery products for campers.

HEI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing hearing science through research and education to improve quality of life.

[Source: HEI]