News & Events

Gail Corneau: Reflections on Dream Camp

In this story, we highlight the stellar work of clinical psychology graduate student Gail Corneau, who serves as one of many therapists in our Dream Camp Program.

About Dream Camp:

Dream Camp was pioneered by our Clinical Psychology faculty Drs. Rosemery Nelson-Gray and Susan Keane. The camp provides social and friendship skills training to children and adolescents in a fun, highly interactive day camp setting. Examples of activities are Taekwondo, yoga, visits with therapy animals, Science Center animal outreach demonstrations, science experiments, art projects, and fire department demonstrations. Camp participants include, but are not limited to, children and adolescents with High Functioning Autism.

The Department is very grateful to Dream Camp’s generous donors, including long-time supporters Mrs. Candy Bernard and Mr. Robert Glickman, who make Dream Camp possible.

We talked with Gail about her experience with Dream Camp, how it serves the community, and the tremendous benefits it has afforded her in terms of professional growth and development as an emerging Scientist-Practitioner.

Gail’s role in Dream Camp:

Gail’s contribution to Dream Camp has been multifaceted; drawing on evidence-based social skills and friendship training programs, she brought new content into the Dream Camp social skills curriculum and conducted training with fellow therapists to review the curriculum.

Along with fellow therapist, Ian Penzel, she co-led the teenage group in a program that included social and independent living skills training.

She also she planned and led a science activity in which campers conducted four experiments (tie-dye milk, slime, lava lamp, and homemade ice cream).

The joys and challenges of serving as a therapist at Dream Camp:

Gail reports, “It was a joy to get to know all of the campers. I was inspired by their exuberance (even early in the morning!) and their willingness to try new things, whether it was talking to someone new, trying out a new skill they learned, or participating in an activity like yoga for the first time. There were also so many instances of campers expressing gratitude, whether through a handshake, sharing of a piece of art, or giving a thank you card, which was inspiring to see because to me it meant that the campers were really having fun and enjoying themselves. I also really enjoyed leading the science activities with the campers. As a former science teacher, I miss these experiences. Inevitably, kids get very excited and ask lots of great questions, which makes me excited too. I love it when an interest in science is sparked!

It is, of course, challenging to incorporate everything you’d like to address in a week, given that social and friendship skills are complex!” 

On critical supervision and mentoring provided by the UNCG clinical psychology faculty:

Drs. Susan Keane, Rosemery Nelson-Gray, and Gabriela Stein supervised all of the therapists and Dream Camp activities over the two week camp period, and Dr. Jason Herndon also provided administrative support to facilitate recruitment, planning, and camp activities. Supervisors and clinicians collaborated on tailoring activities to meet the specific needs of campers and to ensure that campers enjoyed their time at Camp.

On the benefits of Dream Camp as training ground: 

“Serving as a therapist at Dream Camp was a wonderful opportunity for professional growth. It encouraged me to think about how to conduct effective group therapy outside of a traditional treatment setting and how to cultivate creativity and flexibility in clinical practice.”

Congratulatios to Gail and the entire Dream Camp team for their excellent work. More about Dream Camp here.