October 8, 2009
WACO, TX--Donating $85,000 to Camp Success, Baylor University's summer literacy program, is only the tip of the iceberg for Waco Scottish Rite. Completely funded by Waco Scottish Rite, donations to Camp Success total nearly $500,000 over the past seven years. And the members of Scottish Rite also consistently give their time, energy and heart to the camp because they believe in the impact the program makes on each child involved.
"Camp Success made a big difference in my son's life. They've found out what things are wrong, so that we can help him. It's made him want to do work--want to read. This has given him another chance," commented Robin Reinke, a Camp Success parent.
"It allows a child to be what they can be. Our institutions are full of people who weren't given that opportunity," stated Claude Ervin, chairman of Waco Scottish Rite. "Camp Success helps them become self-sufficient people who are a productive part of the community."
The language and literacy needs in the Waco community can seem insurmountable, but Camp Success is the beginning of a solution. As of Camp Success' recent graduation, 1,074 students have graduated from Camp Success, and 204 graduate students have shared this experience.
"Camp Success changed my life. My reading was dead, but Camp Success brought it back to life!" exclaimed Caleb Jones, a third-grade student in the program.
In 2003, Camp Success began with only 24 children and now serves 80 children with a waiting list of nearly 200. Participants ranging in age from five to 18 are evaluated before camp begins to determine their specific strengths and weaknesses. Speech pathologists then develop a step-by-step plan tailored to each child.
"The impact on the teenagers is powerful," said Dr. Michaela Ritter, the director of Camp Success and assistant chair for Baylor's department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "When you see that they were failing classes and now they're making Bs and even As and going to college--it's so rewarding."
During the four-week program, each student benefits from 50 hours of tutoring, which is the equivalent to the reading instruction provided in up to 15 weeks in elementary school classrooms. Complete with various weekly themes, a tactic designed to hold the children's interest, Camp Success is a unique program that touches lives in the Waco community.
"We're making a long-term investment in peoples' lives, and the community benefits because they will become productive, involved and self-sufficient citizens. And the school systems benefit immediately because it increases their standards and test scores," Ervin stated.
"It's not just the money. The Scottish Rite people bring doughnuts every morning for the students, they provide T-shirts for all of them and they support us by just taking the time to talk to the kids," Ritter said. "I cannot praise them enough."
Camp Success is a win for everyone: the students, the community, the school systems and even Baylor students. Baylor speech pathology graduate students serve as clinicians working alongside Baylor faculty, to earn practicum hours toward their degree programs.
"The graduate students see fast progress, and confidence soars--for both the graduate student and the child. Typically speech pathologists are with a client two times a week for one hour each time, so when the students get this intensity, they see the progress and then take the same strategies into the workforce," Ritter said.
"I've never been given the opportunity to mentor someone and actually see the results until now," explained Adam Torres, a Baylor graduate student who is a clinician for Camp Success. "It's been amazing to see them utilizing the strategies we've taught them effectively."
Scottish Rite's recent donation equipped the camp with books, supplies and faculty salaries, empowering the camp to keep touching lives. Their consistent partnership enables Camp Success, now in its seventh year, to provide free language and literacy therapy--therapy that would cost parents $7,000 to $10,000 if paid out of pocket.
"The breadth and depth of the program is immeasurable," Ervin said. "It can be whatever we want to make it--all we need is more people who have enough interest to help it forward."
Jacob Suchecki, one of the many students impacted by Camp Success, announced his gratitude, "Thank you Scottish Rite for giving us all the money so that we can get the stuff we need for success."