5-week camp coming to city

A local couple who worked for years to find the best possible educational support for their son who has dyslexia are bringing a specialty summer camp to Columbus to help other families.

Brian and Adrienne Mormino discovered a five-week summer program in Indianapolis called Camp Delafield, which their son Max attended.

Dyslexia is a code-deciphering condition which prevents Max and others with it from easily translating letters into words.

But by the time camp ended, Max’s reading level had improved by an entire grade level, Adrienne Mormino said. More importantly, Max now enjoyed reading, an activity which frustrated him in the past.

While the camp was extremely helpful, the commute from Columbus to Indianapolis for Max to attend was not convenient, she said. In fact, nearly all dyslexia services in the state were difficult for people in Columbus to obtain, she said.

So, along with parents in a local dyslexia support club called READS, the couple is bringing Camp Delafield to Columbus this year so all families seeking help have a local option this summer.

The Columbus incarnation of the summer program will be at Columbus Youth Camp in mid-June

For kids like Max, now in fifth grade, it’s not as simple as letters appearing backwards, said Nichole Freije, CEO of the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana.

To understand this condition, she suggests imagining a world in which the only font is a constantly changing variation of Microsoft’s symbol lettering Wingdings and where all people are required to write backward in this script with their off hand.

The Morminos created the dyslexia support club READS and worked with local schools on new dyslexia programs based on a system called the Orton-Gillingham Approach, which focuses on teaching reading by engaging all of a student’s senses. For example, a typical flash card used under the program might include an image of the letter F, a picture of a fruit and a small patch of fur, said Adrienne Mormino.

To help Max, every day for more than a month, Adrienne made the 6 a.m. drive from Columbus to Indianapolis last summer to the camp so that Max could attend the sessions, which combined traditional summer camp activities with intensive one-on-one Orton-Gillingham tutoring with licensed teachers.

Max’s personal tutor lived in Seymour. Camp Delafield was in Indianapolis. Other than the schools, there was very little programming available locally.

So, the local READS group started brainstorming ways to localize these services, Adrienne Mormino said.

During one of the club’s regular meetings in September, discussion turned to the idea of creating a dyslexia summer camp in Columbus, she said.

As part of the statewide Dyslexia Institute of Indiana network, meeting minutes from that session were sent to Freije in Indianapolis, which started the process to bring the camp to Columbus.

One sticking point for many potential participants is the camp’s $3,500 price tag, Freije said.

Even after a $500 scholarship from Lee Supply Corp. for all students, many parents might not be able to afford paying $3,000 for a five-week summer camp, organizers said. Most other summer camps in the area, such as those sponsored through the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, cost about $200 a week.

“This is certainly an investment,” Freije said of Camp Delafield.

But the dyslexia program involves more than just traditional camp activities such as swimming and crafts, she said.

Students participating in the program will receive intensive, individual tutoring with a trained, licensed teacher, Freije said. Other camps simply don’t provide that kind of service, she said.

The price also is a little deceiving, Freije said. Many families who have participated in the past now make regular contributions to a scholarship fund to help future campers, she said.

“Please apply (to camp), even if you don’t think you can afford it,” Freije said. “We can’t help if we don’t know about your situation.”

Adrienne Mormino said the camp features a rotating roster of adults who speak with the campers about how they have successfully navigated their dyslexia.

During Max’s time at Delafield, he connected with an aircraft engineer, who became a mentor.

Those who struggle with dyslexia have their entire educational experience affected, and are far less confident in their ability to learn, even though dyslexia has nothing to do with ability to learn, Adrienne Mormino said.

That’s where a program such as Camp Delafield really works, she said. The tutoring and reading supports are vital, but that kind of programming is available in other formats like the schools. The camp offer kids a chance to see past their dyslexia by surrounding them with adults and peers who have faced the condition and found a way through, she said.

If you go

What: Camp Delafield Columbus

When: June 13 to July 15

Where: Columbus Youth Camp, 12454 W. Youth Camp Road

Price: $3,000 with a $500 scholarship from Lee Supply Corp. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify. To apply for additional support, participants must submit a 2015 tax return or 2014 tax return and completed 2015 W-2 form. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, so camp organizers recommend applying immediately.

Registration: All participants must pre-register at DIIN.org.

Dyslexia signs

The Dyslexia Institute of Indiana lists the following signs that a child maybe experiencing dyslexia.

Signs include difficulty in:

  • Learning letters, numbers or the days of the week
  • Pronouncing words correctly
  • Rhyming words
  • Naming people or objects
  • Repeating what has been said
  • Learning to speak
  • Understanding instructions
  • Naming letters
  • Learning to read at grade level
  • Distinguishing between similar letters or words
  • Learning new vocabulary
  • Keeping their place while reading
  • Matching and blending letter sounds while speaking
  • Showing confidence or interest in reading
  • Associating letters with sounds
  • Learning to write at grade level
  • Writing letters, numbers and symbols in correct order
  • Spelling words correctly
  • Proofreading and correcting written work
  • Understanding spacial directions (left and right)