Occupational Therapy Camps Back at Munroe-Meyer Institute for Second Year

July 19, 2023

Tying shoes and practicing handwriting don’t sound like the typical summer camp activities.

But the Munroe-Meyer Institute’s Occupational Therapy Summer Camp focuses on those skills, among others, while offering fun and enriching activities for children and young adults to promote and maintain school readiness and learn new skills with health and safety in mind.

“They’re gaining increased independence, exploring new interests, learning new skills, practicing emerging skills and making new friends,” said Chelli Westengaard, director of the MMI Department of Occupational Therapy.

A camper sits on Jennifer Konieczny’s lap while learning how to tie shoes during Occupational Therapy Summer Camp.

This is the second year of camp sessions hosted by the department. Camp sessions take place once a week for five weeks.

In addition to shoe tying and handwriting, other camps offered this year focus on skills and activities such as cooking, daily living skills, sensory and social skills.

Many of those sessions pair well with ones offered by the MMI Department of Physical Therapy, which is offering camp for the first time this year. Physical therapy camps include sessions on ball skills, walking, playground bootcamp, health and fitness, as well as wheelchair care and repair.

A total of about 45 students — ranging in age from 3 to 19 — are participating across all camp offerings, Westengaard said.

Campers work on new skills and build confidence in practicing fundamental abilities. For example, in handwriting camp, students participate in handwriting activities while incorporating the senses into writing practice in a fun way. Campers also work on upper body and hand strength to improve dexterity.

In daily living skills sessions, older campers learn money management and basic self-care tasks needed for independent living such as laundry, washing dishes and making a bed. They also learn the importance of health care management, like applying deodorant and brushing and flossing teeth.

A camper works on a project during Occupational Therapy Summer Camp.

Westengaard said organizers have already seen success stories, such as children who have mastered tying their shoes.

Sometimes it comes down to using different tools and techniques to teach the skills, Westengaard said.

“We have the opportunity to promote success by providing individualized activities utilizing a variety of mediums and tools,” she said. “These children and young adults are learning new skills and having fun.”