Rosemont Service Immersion Program
This year, the Rosemont College Summer Service Immersion embarked on a true adventure. These 9 Rosemont students would be immersed in a world so very different from their own at Camp Twitch and Shout. Not only were they surrounded by thick Southern accents, without a Wawa in 300 miles, but soon they’d be introduced to the Camp Twitch and Shout community, which as its tongue in cheek name suggests, is a camp chock full of children and adults with Tourette Syndrome. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder categorized by involuntary and repetitive movements or vocalizations called tics. Every camper and many of the counselors have Tourette’s but no case looks the same. Tourette’s is as unique as the individual who has it.
While camp twitch and Shout is a camp for kids with Tourette’s, it is not a camp about Tourette’s. Everyone has it, so this week at camp is about making Tourette’s the norm, making it ordinary, so that campers can achieve the extraordinary within this week and beyond. Cheyenne Tumolo ’18 reflects, “For me, Camp Twitch & Shout gave me inspiration for life. Everywhere I looked there were children younger than me learning to live life to the fullest regardless of any obstacle. My 10 year old camper described it best: “[At camp] you get to express yourself in so many different ways and just be who you are. No one is looking for you to hold your tics in and it allows you to be your true self”. Throughout the week, “The Rosemont Crew” (as we came to be known) supported our campers as they broke down walls and began to climb them (literally). We were there to encourage campers to overcome their fears, whether it be reaching new heights on the rock wall or performing no stage in the talent show. As volunteers, we were also there to celebrate each camper’s triumphs, like when a camper with anxiety was able to eat lunch in the dining hall for the first time, or asked a date (or seven dates) to the dance.
The impact of this week at camp does not stop at the achievements of the campers, but extends to the volunteers’ lives as well. The Rosemont volunteers grew from a collection of campus acquaintances, armed with some Youtube videos and a textbook definition of Tourette’s, into a close-knit group of dedicated advocates of Tourette Syndrome. “My week spent at Camp Twitch and Shout was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had” says Emily Javitt ’17 “but it was also the most rewarding time I’ve spent with a group of kids. I did not want to leave my campers and now I cannot wait to go back next year.” For those that have come to know its warmth, Camp Twitch and Shout is more than a camp, but a family for those with our without Tourette’s. “Camp Twitch and shout is a place that embraces all differences and possibilities even if you are a ‘Neurotypical’ (as one camper affectionately dubbed those with a lack of Tourette’s). It really has touched a spot in my heart that makes me want to keep coming back” remarked Lily Izaola ’18.
While camp is only a week long, the mission and vision of Camp Twitch and Shout does not stop when the campers go home. The Camp Twitch and Shout family is dedicated year round to advocating for Tourette Syndrome awareness, and challenging the mainstream vision of Tourette’s, often falsely represented by the media. The Rosemont Crew now shares in this mission and will be continuing to advocate both on and off campus though Camp Twitch and Shout’s current “Swear 2 Change” Campaign. If you think Tourette’s is all about swearing, you only know about 10%. To learn more about Tourette Syndrome or to donate to the campaign, visit the link above, stop by Campus Ministry or ask one of your Campus Tourette Syndrome advocates about their experience.
The Rosemont Crew of Tourette Syndrome Advocates: Dan Suarez (’17), Emily Javitt (’17), Khai Roberts (’17), Cheyenne Tumolo (’18), Shri Budhavarapu (’18), Bianca Paranzino (’18), Katie Pavlick (’18), Lily Izaola (’18), Melissa Lynch (’19).