By Hope E. Tremblay
Special to Masslive
Westfield resident Brandon Towle stuttered from a young age. At times he struggled, but he never let it get in his way.
Now 21, Towle has set out to create Camp Words Unspoken, a weeklong program set to debut next summer at Camp Howe in Goshen.
“I never let stuttering become a true obstacle and used my own strategies to overcome the fear of speaking in public settings,” he said in an email. “In school I was a quiet student and tended to limit speaking to those peers that I felt comfortable with. Engaging in sports inside and outside of school certainly provided an outlet to be more at ease and vocal with my teammates.”
Towle, a Westfield High School Class of 2015 graduate, is a coach at Westfield Technical Academy and is pursuing a business degree at Holyoke Community College.
Several years ago, he attended a camp in the Midwest for young people who stutter, and he said it was a profound experience. Towle wanted to offer a similar experience to others and decided to start Camp Words Unspoken.
“One of the main purposes of the camp is to bring together youths and teens who stutter all under one setting,” he said. “Some campers may have never met another person that stuttered so it is a great way to share common traits and develop friendships. The fun outdoor atmosphere of the camp is to promote the use of speech fluency strategies throughout the week while boosting self-confidence and the overall quality of life.”
In an effort to get the word out, Towle launched campwordsunspoken.org and has contacted schools, private clinics and universities across New England. He’s also taken advantage of resources through the National Stuttering Association.
The camp is for youths from 8 to 18.
“Activities will be structured to put the campers at ease while promoting communication strategies among the campers,” said Towle. “We have a few things up our sleeves to make it an awesome experience for the campers. Our goal is to raise the campers’ self-confidence when speaking while making friends to last a lifetime.”
Towle encouraged speech language pathologists and those interested in this field to reach out for opportunities. He is also looking for high school students who stutter who would like to be in the Counselor In Training Program, which teaches leadership skills.
Camp Words Unspoken is accepting donations through gofundme.com/campwordsunspoken or by check payable to Camp Words Unspoken, P.O. Box 143, Westfield, MA 01085.