Learning From Persons with Disabilities: Mt Hood Kiwanis Camp

Instructor Name: 
Brenna Wood, Shay Snyder, Leann Horrocks, Nathalie Wollmann, Joe Wightman
Course Description: 

An application is required prior to registration. See our website for more information or to apply: https://www.pdx.edu/education/kiwanis

Since 1972, PSU has teamed up with Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp (MHKC), a nonprofit organization, to help make camp activities accessible to kids and adults with developmental disabilities. In 1995, PSU’s Special Education program and University Studies department partnered with the camp to create one of PSU’s very first capstone courses. Since then, over 4,000 students have earned PSU credit while serving as camp counselors.
During this capstone, in their role as camp counselors, students will broaden their understanding of the lived experience of persons with disabilities while supporting an inclusive and accessible camping experience for people with developmental disabilities at MHKC. Students will learn how the lives of persons with disabilities are similar and different from their own as well as expand their awareness, knowledge, and skills for interacting with and supporting people with disabilities. Working in smaller groups and under the supervision of qualified staff, students use teamwork and communication skills to support each other and campers in a range of outdoor recreation activities.

Course Goals:

Diversity, Equity and Social Justice; Inquiry and Critical Thinking- Students will deepen and broaden their understanding of the lived experience of persons with disabilities in society.

Agency and Community, Critical Thinking- Students will learn about the contributions of one nonprofit serving our community members with developmental disabilities through participation as a camp counselor at the Mt Hood Kiwanis Camp.

Communication, Inquiry and Critical Thinking- Students will learn to communicate and work as a team to support each other and their campers. 

Communication, Diversity, Equity and Social Justice, Inquiry and Critical Thinking-  Students will examine how one’s personal assumptions and perspectives about persons with disabilities impact what is possible for self and others.





Project Description: 

Students will engage in critical thinking and reflection that questions their role, communication skills and life perspectives in a diverse world. The two-week practicum portion of the course enables students to strengthen their personal and professional development through extensive opportunities to interact with campers, camp staff, and other counselor trainees.  In addition to the practicum portion of the course,  students will attend a one-day mandatory orientation at PSU during Spring (Saturday April 13, OR Saturday May 18, 2024), complete online training modules, and write a short reflection paper before and after going to camp. 


Most humbling, joy-filled two weeks of my life.” — J. Huchler

One of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences that I’ve ever had.” — M. Assadi

The most challenging and intense two weeks of my life … changed me for the better.” — D. Cachola

“I learned to be an ally to persons with disabilities." — L. Bartlett

I felt like people saw me for who I really was.” — S. Golden

I made so many friends, gained so many stories, and felt so much depth in my soul, I do not know how to tell others about it.” — P. Claus


General Contact:

Jazmin Roque (she/her) and Joe Wightman (he/him)

Email: mhkc@pdx.edu