The DeafBlind Camp of Maryland was established in 1998 by Deaf Interfaith to provide a safe, fun, barrier-free week for persons who have a significant hearing and vision loss. The camp has grown from six campers the first year to over forty campers currently. Campers have varying degrees of hearing and vision loss; many are totally deaf and blind.There are many recreational activities at camp including climbing walls, hiking, boating, and canoeing. Also, there are educational opportunities such as a technology exhibit of new devices that will help individuals succeed in the world at work or home. Campers lead many of the programs including a cooking class, support group discussions, and worship services. All this is possible by hosting the camp in a barrier-free environment. Assistance is provided to meet the needs of the individual camper; Braille for those who can not read print, ramps for campers using wheelchairs, and sighted guides for those who need guiding. Communication is provided in whatever mode meets the need of the camper – American Sign Language including tactile, spoken English, amplified sound, or writing.Everyone involved in the camp is a volunteer including the planning committee, the coordinators, and the SSPs. Volunteers at camp are called Support Service Providers (SSP). They are the eyes and ears for campers and give up their own vacation to make sure that each camper can experience the camp to its fullest.
Kim is a Real Estate Agent in the state of Delaware who started taking ASL classes to help support a friend who’s niece was born Deaf. She was a mentor at Delaware School for the Deaf for several years. Kim has been involved with the DeafBlind Camp of Maryland since 2009 and has volunteered as an SSP, worked on the planning committee and now serves on the Board.
Dr. Steven D. Collins has been active in the DeafBlind community for the past 35 years. He has attended several DeafBlind camps across the country and is a member of Metro-Washington Association for the DeafBlind. Dr. Collins is a Fulbright Scholar and has been working with international families with vision loss as well. He has published chapters and is a co-editor for the Deaf Interpreter At Work. Steven currently serves as a faculty member at the department of Interpretation and Translation at Gallaudet University.
Kathleen Jeffra received a B.S. in Elementary Ed/Early Childhood Development from College of Notre Dame of MD and has extensive experience teaching students from preschool to adult, especially in a religious setting. It was in the classroom that she became interested in American Sign Language when 2 young boys who were CODAs joined her class. Kathi began working at Christ Deaf Church and Deaf Shalom Zone in 2013 and became involved with DeafBlind Camp that same year. Since then she has contributed as an SSP, with administrative and logistics support for the camp, assisted with fundraising activities, and joined the Board of Directors in 2017.
Lisa (Jordan) Wirkus
Lisa is an ordained United Methodist pastor and a certified sign language interpreter. She credits the DeafBlind Camp of MD as being one of the most influential experiences in her life, since she responded to the call to ministry and improved her signing skills greatly by volunteering with the camp. In addition to this camp, Lisa also directs the Young Adult Deaf Camp designed for Deaf adults with developmental disabilities at West River every summer. In her spare time, she loves being outdoors, playing tennis, and spending time with family and friends.
Brenda has been involved in the DeafBlind community since she attended her first conference of the American Association of the DeafBlind in 1981. Since then, she has been a workshop presenter, mentor, interpreter, and active member of Deaf and DeafBlind organizations at the local and national levels. She enjoys hiking, working out, and travel.
I am a CODA, for my parents were Deaf. I have been involved with Christ United Methodist Church of The Deaf for 30 years. I have been a freelance sign-language interpreter since 1997. I became involved in DeafBlind Camp of Maryland in 1999 starting out as an SSP, now one of the Coordinators and Treasurer. God has led me to be in ministry to Deaf and DeafBlind Individuals.