The Parish School Blog

Speech Pathology Students Gain Valuable Hands-On Experience at Camp Acorn

Written by Amanda Arnold
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For someone looking to get into the field of speech-language pathology, there may be limited sources to receive practical training outside of a clinical setting. Many college students search for a place to receive hands-on experience to help determine their future career path prior to graduation day. Lucky for many young SLP students, they discovered The Parish School.

Each June, college students and recent graduates from across the country make their way to The Parish School to gain the real-world experience they need to enter the field of their dreams – speech-language pathology. During the school’s summer language program called Camp Acorn, students ages 2-12 who have communication delays and learning differences receive an extra language boost between school years. Children may have diagnoses that include including autism, social issues, genetic disorders, attention deficit disorder and auditory and sensory processing issues.

“We’re getting hands-on experience, rather than just observing,” said Gracie Pitner, University of Arkansas.


Camp Acorn slime


At Camp Acorn, SLP students volunteer their time and work under the supervision and direction of certified speech-language pathologists and special education teachers. In exchange, they receive observation hours and gain an understanding of how speech pathology works in a school setting. In addition, volunteer work looks great when applying for graduate school communication programs.

“Volunteering at Camp Acorn provides a unique opportunity for SLP students to gain perspective on the profile of a child who has communication delays,” said Stefanie Heintz, Camp Acorn Director. “Our volunteers spend 15 hours a week facilitating language and social development and ultimately get a behind-the-scenes look into how goals are chosen, implemented and measured.”

As one of the leading schools in the nation for educating children who have language disorders, The Parish School has a strong relationship with the University of Houston’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program, but many students come from across the country to spend June working at Camp Acorn. Some SLP students have reported having a friend or family member who have a communication disorder, inspiring them to enter the field.

For information on volunteering to work at Camp Acorn, visit


Camp Acorn cooking