ADBC'S FOURTH DEAF-BLIND RETREAT
By Arthur Babin and Carel Dunaway
The Arkansas Deaf-Blind Community (ADBC) hosted the fourth Deaf-Blind Retreat at the beautiful Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Ferndale, Arkansas which is located about 20 miles from downtown Little Rock on October 24-27, 2013. Twenty-eight deaf-blind individuals from Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Oklahoma attended, with approximately fifty-five Support Service Providers (SSPs) and one Observer. Some of the SSPs were students in the UALR Interpreter Education Program enrolled in a course “Interpreting for Individuals who are Deaf-Blind.” Students enrolled in this course are required to complete a service learning project. They were able to complete this assignment by volunteering as SSPs at the retreat and they were mentored by UALR Interpreter Education faculty members Carolyn Jolley and Jami Hollingsworth.
Arthur Babin and Carel Dunaway were the chairpersons of the retreat along with Betty Babin as an advisor. Their committee, consisting of Carolyn Jolley, Jami Hollingsworth, Stevie Brown, Brittney Houle, Linda Pringle, Meagan Shepherd, Ashley Beaty, Coy Detherage and Erika Morris, worked hard planning for this retreat for almost a year. All of their hard work paid off because the retreat was once again a HUGE success and was enjoyed by everyone. The theme of the retreat was “Pumpkin Patch Fun” where the campsite was glorified with pumpkins all over!
The purpose of this retreat was to bring together individuals who are deaf-blind from Arkansas and Louisiana in a social atmosphere that provides plenty of opportunity for interaction and camaraderie. Through careful planning of the schedule of activities and coordination with the SSP schedule, everything about this retreat was totally accessible for individuals who are deaf-blind. Such interaction fosters independence and empowerment. We, the deaf-blind, learn with and from each other and often come away with a new sense of what DB CAN do.
After the registration Thursday evening, the retreat kicked off with an Opening Ceremony consisting of an orientation to the campgrounds and camp schedule of activities and a short memorial for Ann Northup, ADBC President who was supposed to attend the retreat for the first time, but unfortunately she passed away on October 9, 2013. After the ceremony, we had a Birthday Bash celebrating those whose birthdays fall on October 24-27. On Friday, we went on an all-day field trip to Hicks Family Farm & Pumpkin Patch near Lonoke, Arkansas where everyone enjoyed going through a huge corn maze, petting farm animals, gold-digging in the sand pit, riding on hayride, hay-bale maze, playing some games and eating lunch of hamburgers or hotdogs. The weather was pleasantly warm that day! After the trip we had a short workshop given by Linda Glenn in place of Jeff Prail on Arkansas Relay Service.
Competitive games related to theme were played throughout the weekend. This year, campers were divided into Orange and Green teams that competed against each other with every game that was played. Such games were “Finding a Needle in the Haystack”, “Bobbing for Pumpkin”, “Pumpkin Toss”, “Pump-chin”, to name a few. We also had arts & crafts session where the campers painted and decorated wooden pumpkin cutouts.
According to retreat tradition, Saturday night ended with a Pumpkin Patch Fun Dance at the Activity Building at Ferncliff Camp. Campers and SSPs came dressed in different pumpkin-themed costumes. We danced and played a few games. There were Best Pumpkin Costume contest. David Duhon of Louisiana won as the best Male Camper Costume, and Annie Ambrose also of Louisiana won as the best Female Camper Costume. We also awarded Whitney Ambrose of Louisiana as the best Male SSP Costume and Ashley Beaty of Arkansas as best Female SSP Costume. They all received beautiful ceramic pumpkins. Jude Lanclos of Louisiana was voted as the Best Dancer at the party, and he was donned with a crown and a stuffed pumpkin which brought a broad smile on his face. There was a huge cake with the retreat logo on it. The room was decorated in orange and green with tables donned with pumpkins.
On Sunday the Closing Ceremony took place with campers giving feedback on the retreat before everyone went home. Every SSP alas Support Service Pumpkin received an appreciation gift, a small glittered pumpkin ornament with a Thank You tag. Team Orange, led by Betty Babin, won overall with the highest points for all the games and each team member was awarded the glittered pumpkin ornament. Well, Team Green led by Art Babin got a nice surprise by being awarded each with a small pumpkin centerpiece. Melinda Granger of Louisiana and Dwayne Pope of Arkansas were the best artists, Jude Lanclos and Kim Powers-Smith of Texas won as the longest pump-chin necking couple. Blaise Delahoussaye from Maryland (originally from Louisiana) had the almost perfect count of corn kernels on the ear. Rickey Babin of Louisiana won the Musical Hats game. They all were also awarded with beautiful ceramic pumpkins. Jeri Cooper from Oklahoma announced that they would host the DB Conference in Oklahoma in October 2014 so more information will follow in early 2014. Jackie Broussard from Louisiana also shared with plans for the next DB retreat in Louisiana in October 2015, and the theme will be (sorry Arkansas folks…) “LSU!” Art Babin then announced that ADBC might look into using 4-H Conference Center next door to Ferncliff Camp for our next DB retreat in 2017.