Yet another year of CCVA is over. Held at the 4-H Center on the James River in Jamestown, VA, the site now feels quite comfortable and familiar. Every year’s return to this event renews one’s passion to the use of Cued Speech as you mingle and mix with families. I’m finally more comfortable communicating with the “older” (teen and above) cuers. While I’ve been comfortable cueing to Ray and his friends for quite a while, I’ve always felt self conscious cueing to someone whom I considered quite adept in the technique. I felt they would judge me based on my mistakes or slow pace. They never did, but I’ve finally gotten more comfortable cueing with these individuals. I think I’ve finally just managed to gain my own self confidence in my ability.
One of the really poignant things about this event is the degree to which all the individuals communicate together. The kid groups are not matched by hearing ability, but by age. With hearing impaired and hearing siblings, cousins, friends, all grouped together, you see how well they do all communicate together, how they all include one another in what is going on. Seeing the now grown “cue kids” return each year is also inspiring. These “kids” have been coming to camp since they were in elementary school or younger, but now as adults return, not only by choice, but choosing to be volunteers, group leaders, and mentors.
As has become my custom now for several years, I produced the slide show for the Saturday night gathering. I spent Friday taking as many pictures of each of the different events going on as I could. I managed to get a bit of a better handle on sorting my pictures, and those Don had taken as well, by processing through most of those pictures that night. I was again taking pictures on Saturday morning, but by late morning, I left the remainder of the picture taking to Don and the others as I continued sorting through the vast number of pictures. I often wonder how Suzanne and Bob and those involved in the slide shows during those early years managed to do all this without digital photography. With rolls of slide film, which they dashed out to have processed on Saturday, they produced these slide shows using real slides and a slide projector. While I know that the number of photos taken now greatly surpasses the number they had to work with, I still am thankful for digital processing. I shot over 500 pictures. Don also had over 500. In fact, with contributions of pictures from many of the camp participants, the total number of pictures sorted through for the slide show was almost 3000 this year. A little over a tenth of them made it to the final show. Overall, I was very happy with the results produced by my new Nikon D80, although I’m still learning the best settings for various situations.
Apparently, during one of the sessions a comment I made, made an impression on the parents of a child. They were there to learn about Cued Speech and decide if it was the right modality for them. I related a story to them of an event which had happened at Ray’s school. The Optomist Club sets a topic each year on which the students write and give a speech. All students in the school are expected to participate in this event, including the hearing impaired students. The parents of the hearing impaired students were invited to come to the school to hear their children give their speeches. While the school services students in 3 different modalities, ASL, Cued Speech, and Whole Language, the only parents who happened to show up this day were the parents of Cue Kids. The topic for this year’s speech was “My Greatest Challenge”. We listened as all the kids gave their speeches. It struck me as 3 of the ASL students described their “Greatest Challenge” as an inability to effectively communicate with their own parents. Their parents were not fluent enough in ASL to help with homework, describe their day at work, or understand why their child did not like the style of clothing they had picked out for them. I told this family that no matter what modality they chose they had to be passionate about it for their child to be the most successful they could be. That comment really struck this lady and she came up to me later to tell me so. She said that she’d been going to different venues and learning the different systems to make the best choice, but she’d not become passionate about anything. She realized from my comments that it was her and her family’s dedication to a modality that would make it successful. She needed to feel passionate about a system and she was learning why so many of us were passionate about Cued Speech. The language of the home, it’s one of the essential components to Cued Speech. My culture is not Deaf Culture, it’s a culture based on my own sayings, my own colloquialisms, my tidewater Virginia roots. Those are the things I want my child to grow up and feel are a part of his culture. It’s why Cued Speech made sense for us.
For Cue Camp pictures go here.