Unified Homebase Takes Field Trip To Camp Watchaug

Story by Colette Dreher, Staff Writer

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The students and peers in a unified homebase at Stonington High School had the opportunity to spend a day in Charlestown, Rhode Island, at Camp Watchaug. A Unified classroom or homebase is composed of students with and without varying disabilities. This enables collaboration between all ranges of capability with typical peers.

The bus left Stonington High School at approximately 7:45am to head to the camp. The ride consisted of a lot of jokes, laughs, and stories between the students and their teachers. Upon arrival, the group was greeted by two camp supervisors. One of the supervisors named Nate spent the day with the group and taught the group how to do two different activities, while also monitoring to ensure everyone’s safety.

The first thing that the students and teachers did was play name games so that Nate could remember who he would be working with that day. The first game consisted of the person whose turn it was saying their name, and what they would bring to the figurative picnic that the group would have. The trick was, the item being brought to the picnic had to start with the first letter of that person’s name. The next game involved a bouncy ball, where someone had to call out the person’s name before they threw it to them. The group was not the most athletically-inclined which made it all that much funnier. By the end of the activities, whoever was unfamiliar with names at the start did not have any more trouble.

Next, the typical peers in the group were paired up with someone in the group and were blindfolded. They had to trust their partner to walk them and lead them across a grass field to a telephone poll. This was a great team bonding exercise that required a lot of trust. Naga Gregoire, a junior member of the Unified Homebase, said, “I did a great job!”

The group was then split into two sections. The first section got to start at the 50 foot rock wall, and the other half started at an archery station. The archery station was a great way to get students to learn how to shoot arrows and aim at a specific target. Chris Tilton, a freshman who uses a wheelchair, had the proper technique to be able to shoot accurately by moving his wheelchair sideways. The instructor and peers helped guide the other students on how to properly hold the bow and arrow. There were many successful shooters and also many who started off shaky and finally got the hang of it.

The next station was the rock wall that was 50 feet high. Many of the students were scared because it looked much higher from the top then it did when looking up from the ground. The Mueller twins, Jake and Max, both seniors, made it to the top with no problem, though Max admits he was scared when he looked down at the ground. All of the kids participated and climbed to the height that was comfortable enough for them. Gregoire recalled her time on the rock wall. “I was scared but it was fun.” Gregoire and friend Colette Dreher made a $20 bet that Gregoire would be too scared to climb the wall. Gregoire claims to have won the bet because she at least tried to climb.

It is important to continue strengthening the bond of unified classrooms by doing various group activities because building relationships and friendships with all kinds of students can make interactions for those with disabilities much easier. Camp Watchaug was a great and scenic place to enjoy a day and create strong friendships and skills.

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