Deaf youngsters bond at Missouri summer baseball camp

(KSDK/CNN) — It’s the time of year when the sounds of summer can be heard all over the country.

But not by the kids on these baseball fields in St. Peters, Mo. It’s the Mike Bush Fantasy Baseball Camp for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Nine-year-old Harrison Beck is in his third year here. Harrison discovered a love for sports when he was just a toddler about the same time doctors discovered that he was deaf.

His dad said the diagnosis was actually a blessing but, still, like most children, Harrison just wanted to fit in.

“It’s hard for a kid who can’t hear and talk like every other kid to join in a team sport,” father Dan Beck said.

That’s why, 25 years ago, this camp was started. For a week every summer, some 60 kids who often get singled out because of their disability get to standout because of their ability.

“The camp has meant so much to so many kids,” said camp director Cari Hampton, “that when they grow up, they come back as volunteers.”

Seventeen-year-old Rachel McMurtrey was a camper for five years. She comes back now as one of more than two dozen volunteers, many of whom know sign language, because she wants these kids to feel a part of a team.

“I’m trying to be a good role model to the kids,” she said. “They’ve been in my situation. I’m trying to show them that you’re not alone.”

And that feeling must be contagious, because instead of watching his son from the sidelines, Harrison’s dad is now also a volunteer coach.

“I feel awesome,” Harrison said. “It feels good to have friends — many, many friends that are the same as me.”

The camp only lasts a week, but it stays with these kids much longer.

“I’ve had kids and some of their parents tell me that this camp changed their lives,” Hampton said.

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