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Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind’s mission: building life skills, self-confidence and independence for children and young adults who are blind or have low vision.
OUB programs help people with visual impairments develop skills of blindness, helping them become competent, confident, contributing, tax paying, working adults. OUB provides summer camps and work experiences that focus on the educational goals expressed in the Expanded Core Curriculum. OUB utilizes teaching methods and strategies that encourage campers to be as confident and independent as possible, safely, while keeping learning fun! OUB’s goal is that every child, teen, young adult and adult with or without a visual impairment who comes to OUB Camps or works for OUB learns self-reliance skills and expands their dreams for their future success.
Where are we located?
Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind partners with the 120-acre Camp Optimist, which has a day lodge, sports fields, teaching kitchen, tent platforms, and shower building. The camp also features our camp garden. In addition, OUB partners with Indian Trails Camp for recreational activities including swimming, boating, and rock climbing. Together, the two camps have eco-diversity with unlimited potential as the place to develop a love for recreation, adventure, and exploring while learning about nature, developing mobility and orientation skills, activities in daily living, and social skills.
Our annual Adventure Trip takes campers who are blind or visually impaired campers to places in Michigan and outside the state that they may not be able to ever visit on their own. OUB has sponsored several Adventure Trips to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado, Inland Seas on Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan, and all over Michigan, both below “The Bridge” and above it (lower and upper peninsula), camping in tents, cooking over campfires, hiking, exploring the natural world and gaining a sense of history, science, and accomplishment by “roughing it”.
Who are we?
OUB’s Executive Director, Gwen Botting, was the President of Michigan Parents of Children with Visual Impairments for 12 years and the parent of a blind college student. Gwen has served on the OUB Board of Directors for several years. OUB is governed by a Board of Directors which oversees the operation of the organization.
For OUB By Laws: By-laws 2013
Who are our staff members?
OUB hires young adults who are blind or visually impaired or have an interest in education, special education, outdoor education, or health care fields. OUB’s goal is at least 50% blind employees. All of our employees have passed state-mandated criminal background checks. Our blind staff at all levels of our organization provide positive, independent and successful role models for our campers. It’s amazing to hear this scenario played out several times every camp season:
Camper: “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.”
Staff member: “If I learned to do it, so can you.”
Camper: “But you can see!”
Staff member: “No I can’t.”
Camper: “You’re blind, too?”
What exactly does OUB offer?
Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind provides 5-7 weeks of summer camp each year for visually impaired children and young adults. Job training for our staff is on-going and centers around the summer season.
What does OUB expect campers to learn at camp?
OUB has several important goals for our campers:
• Have fun while gaining skills and knowledge.
• Enhance campers’ current daily living skills, such as proper table manners, tying shoes, making a sandwich, cooking, laundry, cleaning, personal organization and much more, utilizing blind persons as role models and teachers.
• Learn about our food supply, how to identify weeds by smell, texture and shape, increase knowledge of how to grow, prepare and cook vegetables and fruits, and increase the range of healthy foods that campers will eat through our own organic garden at Camp Optimist.
• Help campers learn to use their senses other than vision to identify their surroundings, including elements in the natural environment (e.g. forests, fields, wetlands and lakes). For example ,campers learn to identify a tree by its bark and smell, a bird by its song or wing whirl, a type of fungus by its texture. We teach campers to associate the sounds, feel and scents of an area to identify its habitat.
• Help campers learn and practice safe cane travel in natural environments and rough terrain. Improve skills of cane travel using a compass, sounds, wind direction, and route memorization.
• Gain a sense of self-confidence and improve social skills to become more proactive, both independently and in group settings.
• Provide arts and crafts and music experiences to spark creativity, developing gross and fine motor skills and enhance campers’ existing talents.
• Provide an adapted Environmental Studies curriculum, so that our campers will gain an appreciation of and concern for the earth, ecology, conservation, and nature.
• Help campers learn to be able to adapt to sudden changes in the environment and people around them.
• Encourage youth to participate in organizations that focus on their personal interests, including organizations of other persons who are blind or visually impaired, broadening their boundaries and expanding their comfort zone.
For a more extensive list of skills, please see our Independent Living Skills Page.
Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind is a 501c3 organization. Your donation may be tax deductible. We value your contributions to our cause! Click Here for Donation Information
See how OUB has affected the lives of staff and campers! In Their Own Words- Messages from Staff and Campers