When Caryn Hudson of Chester was three months old, her doctors discovered that she had profound sensorineural hearing loss. Born prematurely, she began wearing hearing aids at 10 months old and had her first cochlear implant in her left ear when she was two and a half. She received her second cochlear implant at age nine. Caryn communicates verbally, but uses sign language as well.
Now 19, Caryn is a freshman at Spartanburg Methodist College. Caryn first attended Camp Wonder Hands when she was seven, after learning about it through her teacher. At first, Caryn was excited, but nervous about being away from her mother, Carman Hudson, for so long. “After I met all the children and adults with hearing loss, I became comfortable and was eager to come back the next year,” said Caryn.
Camp Wonder Hands has been a confidence booster for Caryn. “I am no longer ashamed of being deaf,” she said. “Seeing all the activities and adventures a deaf person can experience helped me see that I was just like any other child.”
Caryn’s favorite day of camp is the first day, when she gets to reconnect with friends at the pool party. “I love swimming and dancing by the pool. “Ice cream is my favorite food, so I love the ice cream social on the first day.”
Caryn now serves as a counselor in Leadership Training. “It was challenging at first, but it has helped me learn how to work with smaller children who are hearing impaired. It also helped me realize that working with children who are deaf or hard of hearing is what I want to do after I graduate from college.”
Caryn’s message to children who are considering Camp Wonder Hands is, “Don’t be afraid. Everyone is nice and friendly. It’s like one big family and they will take really good care of you. Give it a try. You won’t regret it.”
She encourages parents of children with hearing loss to consider the benefits, such as increased confidence and improved social skills. “What they learn at Camp Wonder Hands will go a long way in life,” she said.
After graduation from Spartanburg Methodist College, Caryn plans to continue her education at Converse College to earn her Early Childhood Education degree. “My goal is to become a teacher and work with hearing impaired or special needs children,” said Caryn.