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  • Writer's pictureKristin Chmela, M.A., CCC-SLP BCS-F

A Powerful Letter from a Camper

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Hello, My Name is Brian Tyler and I am a stutterer. Stuttering is a neurological disorder of unknown

origin that affects 1 percent of the world wide population. Three million Americans stutter. Boys are 4

times more likely to stutter than girls. I am in Ninth grade at Eton Academy. I’ve attended three schools and I never met another kid who stutters until I went to camp shout out. My heroes are Kristen Chmela and Julie Raynor , co founders and directors of Camp Shout Out.

Camp Shout out is for kids 8-18 with fluency disorders. The mission of Camp Shutout is to bring together youth with fluency disorders, speech-language pathologists, and graduate students, guided by Board Certified Specialists in Fluency to learn, teach, and empower each other to become more competent communicators and therapists in a safe, fun and natural environment.

In short: Their goal is to help all kids become the best communicators they can be.

Camp Shout out is held at Pioneer Trails Camp in Holton, Michigan, on Big Blue Lake. Each summer we work on personal communication goals in small and large group interactions. In addition CSO provides 2 days of training and support for parents. Camp Shutout’s excellence has attracted kids and graduate students from across North America, Canada, Central America , and New Zealand. In addition Camp Shout won the Connecting to Community award in 2014.

This August will be my Fourth Year attending Camp Shout Out. Since I am going into tenth grade I have an exciting opportunity to be a leader in training. Tom Chmela directs this program and is also a hero of mine. Tom helps us improve our problem solving AND communicative leadership skills. We apply the LESSONS LEARNED to a variety of activities for younger campers At the same time we continue to receive therapy, support, and encouragement to manage our own fluency.

The coolest thing about Camp Shout Out is that it has introduced me to new friends who have the

same troubles.

The best thing I have learned at Camp is the five pillars of communication. They are: Attentive,

Assertive, Confident, Effective and Proactive. I have learned that stuttering is not an excuse for lack

of classroom participation. I have become a more confident speaker. For example, this is the first time

in my life I have been able to speak in public.

I have learned to be proactive. For example, every academic year before school starts I meet with my

teachers to talk about my stuttering and let them know exactly what helps and what doesn’t help me

communicate my ideas at Eton Academy.

I have also become more assertive. I give the wait finger to waitresses, friends, teachers and my parents, when I am blocking and need more time to completely express my idea.

It is only fair for me to mention the love, support , and encouragement I receive from my uncle Tom,

from my father’s side. who is also a stutterer. He is my stuttering mentor. He always makes time to

spend with me when I’m visiting Peterborough, Canada. I have witnessed the fact that just because you stutter doesn’t mean you can’t be very, very successful across a spectrum of business ventures. This has boosted my self confidence beyond words. I want to thank my parents for all they do to support me, for finding Camp Shout and sending me to

Eton Academy. I’d like to also thank Mrs. Longhway for encouraging me to face my fears of speaking before an audience at the Optimist Club.

Now, here’s what you can do:

If you find yourself in a conversation with a stutterer-please, DO NOT FINISH their sentences. They

know what they want to say and they want to express their own ideas. Your intentions may be kind, and you may think you are being helpful, but trust me – you are not. Please, do not “coach” by telling them to slow down, take a breath or any other well meaning advice. DO maintain eye contact with the

stutterer and WAIT. Just be patient, I promise I’ll find the words.

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