Twitch and Shout summer camp

Twitch and Shout summer camp

Eleven-year-old Blake Desadier thought his mom was lying when she told him there were other kids like him with Tourette's syndrome.

Then he went to "Camp Twitch and Shout," a weeklong summer camp for children with Tourette's, a neurological disorder that makes people have different types of involuntary muscle movements or speech. The camp helps children embrace the disorder. Many of the counselors also have Tourette's.

"My mom wasn't lying to me about how many people have Tourette's," said Blake, who is from New Orleans. His face twitches and he clears his throat uncontrollably.

Blake is one of about 170 kids who attend the camp each year. It ended Friday.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of Tourette' syndrome. Symptoms are often worse in the early teens but improve into adulthood. Boys are affected more often than girls.

Audrey Vogel attended camp four years ago when she was 14. Now, she is a counselor in training.

"It was honestly one of the coolest moments in my life and, this sounds weird, but everyone was just ticcing," Vogel said of her first camp. "Kids were throwing themselves on the floor, they were screaming at the top of their lungs. I have a tapping tic where I have to tap people 8 times on the shoulder. No one even cares."

Vogel said the camp changed her life. She is now open to telling people about her condition.

Located at a state park in Winder, about 50 miles east of Atlanta, the camp was started six years ago by a handful of parents whose children have Tourette's. Tricia Kardon is one of the co-founders and camp director.

"Our vision was to have a place where no one would question their disorder, where they could be normal and they could have typical camp experiences. And, hopefully change their life," she said.

The children's tics range from mild to severe.

One child spits in someone's face and apologizes. Others fall unexpectedly, so camp counselors always have an eye on them.

Through sharing experiences, the children learn to better cope with Tourette's.

"It's made me look at Tourette's not so much as a problem, more like a quality," said 11-year-old Sam Duggar. For many, the biggest challenge is leaving. "It's a lot of on and off crying," Vogel said. "You stop ... and then a friend comes up and hugs you and you start crying all over again.


In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, camper Andrew Nail, 14, of Atlanta, right, sits with counselor Danielle Kaidon, 21, as she helps him get through a tic where he feels the urge to hold someone's hand following lunch hour at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. The two sat there for about ten minutes until Nail felt the urge pass. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, camper Jared Nation, 12, of LaGrange, Ga., right, becomes exhausted after counselor Evan Stevens, 24, of Greensboro, N.C., helped him tire out the urge to scream by hitting a laundry bag instead while experiencing a tic at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. Stevens who also has Tourrette's was able to calm Nation's urge by first hitting the bag, then by solving math equations to help him mentally focus on something else. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this July 15, 2014 photo, Lazarus Jordan, 13, of Long Beach, Calif, center, is congratulated by counselors Paul Luongo, 24, left, and Seth Tucker, 29, after completing a rope course in the trees at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette Syndrome in Winder, Ga. The weeklong summer camp helps children embrace and cope with the neurological disorder that makes people have different types of involuntary muscle movements or speech known as tics. Many of the counselors also have Tourette’s and the tics range from mild to severe. Through sharing experiences, the children learn to better cope with Tourette’s while forming strong friendships. For many, the biggest challenge is leaving. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, counselor in training Audrey Vogel, 18, of Monroe, Conn., paints a rock with a message on it during an art activity at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this July 15, 2014 photo, Liam Harrison, 13, of Nashville, Tenn., right, embraces camp worker Katie Lesesne, 21, while experiencing a tic where he feels the urge to hug someone in proximity at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette Syndrome in Winder, Ga. "When I get the feeling, I just want to squeeze someone," explains Harrison. "When I let go it makes me happy. It feels so awesome like I'm gaining something. It makes me feel a lot better." (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, camper Tess Westafer, 9, of North Augusta, S.C., runs through a mud obstacle course at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. Many of the kids were reluctant to do the obstacle course but did so after encouragement from staff members. It's a way to help some of the campers who also have obsessive compulsive disorders go outside their comfort zone. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this July 15, 2014 photo, campers cross an elevated obstacle rope course holding hands to encourage team building skills at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, camper Jacob Threatt, 9, of Macon, Ga., center, is hugged by counselors in training Savannah Sherman, 16, left, and Drew Donovan, 17, while running through a mud obstacle course at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this July 15, 2014 photo, Logan Henderson, 13, of Blairsville, Ga., right, is high-fived by counselor Joe Sindoni, 25, after completing a rope course in the trees at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, campers attend a dance on the final evening at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, A.J. Dorough, 13, of Covington, Ga., right, slow dances with Kristin Moorehead, 13, of Tampa, Fla., on the final night at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, Kristin Moorehead, 13, of Tampa, Fla., left, comforts A.J. Dorough, 13, of Covington, Ga., as he uses a foam kick board to avoid hurting himself during a tic where he feels the urge to hit his hand against a wall at Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. The two met at the camp four years ago and always attend the dance together on the camp's final night. "We help each other out," says Moorehead, who first tried deep breathing exercises with Dorough to get through the tic. After it didn't work she could only comfort him while he hit the wall to get the tic out. "The hard part is where you have to stand by and watch, you feel so helpless." (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this July 18, 2014 photo, counselor Paul Luongo, 24, right, says goodbye to camper Colton Semonasky, 12, of Leesburg, Fla., as they leave to go home from Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette Syndrome in Winder, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In this Friday, July 18, 2014 photo, Kristin Moorehead, 13, of Tampa, Fla., right, says goodbye to A.J. Dorough, 13, of Covington, Ga., as they leave to go home from Camp Twitch and Shout, a camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome in Winder, Ga. Dorough and Moorehead first met at the camp four years ago and have attended the annual dance together held on the camp's final night ever since. "I try to be tough when we say goodbye after camp ends but as soon as I get into the car, I start crying," says Dorough. Through sharing experiences, the children learn to better cope with Tourette’s while forming strong friendships. For many, the biggest challenge is leaving. (AP Photo/David Goldman)


Opening text from the AP story, SUMMER CAMP HELPS KIDS WITH TOURETTE'S SYNDROME By Marina Hutchinson. To license this story or other AP news, contact us.

Photography by David Goldman

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