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PARKER (CBS11) – Summer camp is a rite of passage for many kids, but deaf children have a unique experience with the sounds of summer. That’s why researchers at UT Dallas are spending a week in Collin County learning from young people with cochlear implants, while the kids have a blast.

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11-year-old Benji Purcel can get a little tired of having to explain to people how he hears.

“They usually ask me what is this brown thing on my ears, and I just say, it’s my cochlear implant; I’m deaf, so I use it to help me hear,” Benji said.

For Benji and dozens of campers at the week-long retreat organized by the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at UT Dallas, camp is a refreshing change of pace.

“I think it’s really cool to meet some people that have gone through the same challenges as you have. Like you really don’t see that at other camps,” Benji said.

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In addition to traditional camp arts and crafts, dancing gives these campers a special emphasis on music. Hannah Calhoun spent many of her childhood summers at camps like this. Now that she’s studying audiology in college, she volunteers as a counselor and is encouraged by recent breakthroughs.

“When I was implanted, music was not appreciated at all, like it was much harder to hear music, whereas now technology has changed, and music is a lot more enjoyable for kids with cochlear implants,” Calhoun said.

Many of the counselors are graduate students from UTD’s School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and campers say they appreciate the special treatment.

“They will know that you have hearing problems, so sometimes they translate it in like a different way than a normal counselor would, which I think is pretty cool,” Benji said.

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