Blind Students Gain Employability Skills at Camp Transition Zone at Camp Daggett on Walloon Lake in Petoskey

BSBP hosts career readiness camp, now in its 7th year
Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

August 23, 2018 - Petoskey may be known for its unique and highly sought-after rocks but there is something else happening there unique in spirit and rich in experience.

BSBP campers at tableLARA’s Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) Camp Transition Zone continues to inspire blind and visually impaired students to overcome barriers and explore possibilities. The summer program, open to blind and visually impaired students across the state, is held annually at Camp Daggett on Walloon Lake in Petoskey. This year, 22 blind and visually impaired students participated in self-advocacy instruction, increased self-confidence by completing the Camp Daggett Challenge ropes course through a challenge-by-choice philosophy, gained workplace readiness skills, and gained exposure to local businesses.

“It is truly amazing to hear about the successes of students at this event.  Everyone benefits, including our business and community partners who experience firsthand the greatness of these students,” said BSBP Director Bill Robinson. “BSBP offers many summer and school year programs, such as Camp Transition Zone, in order to provide blind and visually impaired students with the skills and confidence to successfully transition to employment and/or postsecondary education.”

Several local business worked with the students to expose them to in-demand career paths.  BSBP would like to thank the Petoskey Paladins, a FIRST Robotics Competition team who coached the students working in teams to build and program a robot.

“We loved having the opportunity to share robotics with the students at Camp Transition Zone using Lego Mindstorms to build and program robots with them,” said Mary Jean Meyerson, a coach with the Paladins. “It was a fantastic experience for the Transition Zone students, as well as the Paladins, who are students in grades 9-12. They can’t wait to come again next year.” 

The North Central Michigan College CNC Fab Lab introduced machine shop technology to the students through a mobile lab.  Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is the automation of machine tools by means of computers executing pre-programmed sequences of machine control and represents a booming job market in Michigan.  BSBP thanks North Central Michigan College for demonstrating an in-demand career that blind and visually impaired students may pursue.

“Our students and staff had a very rewarding experience working with the students at Camp Transition Zone,” said Kevin Glines, corporate and community education director and trainer at North Central Michigan College. “We had an amazing time and look forward to working with the camp next year.”

BSBP campers and climbing wallOther significant community partners contributing to this event included Disability Network Northern Michigan who provided programming focusing on self-advocacy and workplace readiness skills; the Lions Club of Petoskey, that cooked and served students a pancake breakfast; and Challenge Mountain, a nonprofit organization that provides recreational programming for those with disabilities, that assisted with leisure activities including boat rides, tubing and a student dance.

The BSBP Transition Program helps eligible students age 14 – 26 successfully transition from high school to postsecondary education or employment based on the student’s goal. Pre-employment transition services are provided in collaboration with local educational agencies and community partners. The program includes five pre-employment transition service categories: job exploration counseling; work-based learning; postsecondary exploration; workplace readiness training, including social skills and independent living; and self-advocacy instruction.

BSBP provides training and other services for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to achieve employment and/or independence in the careers of their choice. For more information about BSBP visit www.michigan.gov/bsbp or call toll-free: 800-292-4200, TTY 888-864-1212.  BSBP is a part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

A tradition since 1925, Camp Daggett has provided quality character building experiences through educational and recreational programs in a safe, fun environment for all ages with an emphasis on youth. Located on the west arm of Walloon Lake in Northwest Michigan, Camp Daggett was founded in 1925 by Walter J. MacMillan, a Petoskey resident and teacher. In 1924, the daughter of Henry Daggett, a local hardware store owner in Petoskey, donated the 43-acre parcel of land to be used as a summer camp for children.

The pre-employment transition services provided under the Vocational Rehabilitation program described in this press release are funded 100 percent through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For federal fiscal year 2018, the total amount of grant funds used for these services is expected to approximate or exceed $2 million.

For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara.
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