Beyond the Classroom: Student Therapists Learn by Serving


Students can learn about physical, occupational, and speech therapy in the classroom. Rachel Tucker and Adam Manahan wanted to do more than learn from books and lectures. As student therapists, they were looking for a more immersive learning experience, and found ways to put their knowledge into practice while serving with Victory Lane Camp this summer.

Rachel began her involvement with Victory Lane Camp as a volunteer with her family. During this experience, she met Victory Kid Luke Miller.

“My favorite connection has to be with Luke Miller,” she expressed. “My first camp we made a bond, and I love seeing his smile and hearing his laughter and happiness every second.”

This year, Rachel had the opportunity to experience camp for the first time as a student therapist. “I was excited to finally become a graduate student in occupational therapy and actually be able to work alongside therapists and kids with special needs,” shared Rachel. Through her time at camp, she has been able to make connections with other therapists as well as with Serving and Victory Families. She also made a connection with Micah, a Victory Kid. She watched him grow and try new things at Bradford Woods.

“This past summer at Bradford Woods, my favorite experience was working with Micah through all of the activities we did together,” she shared. “I loved getting him to climb the cargo nets with me as well as completing all the games during the VLC Olympics.”

Adam’s connection with Victory Lane Camp began through his work with 321Go Kids Rehab. Adam spent the summer as a student therapist with 321Go Kids Rehab as part of his clinical while he is attaining his masters in occupational therapy. Serving at camp provided a unique setting for Adam to apply his therapy skills.

Adam particularly enjoyed helping with the Upchurch family and continuing his work with Caden. He assisted with several daily activities and nightly routines, but what stood out to him most was seeing first-hand the trials that Victory Families face every day. He explained, “It gave me a better understanding of the family unit, how their routines affect therapy, and how completing therapy can be addressed in a more holistic manner to adapt to the family’s life.”

Both Adam and Rachel value their experience at camp. Adam expressed, “Throughout camp, different situations would arise where a child or family was having a difficult time and a creative solution was needed to address this. The therapy team I was privileged to work with displayed incredible professionalism and creativity when thinking of adaptive ways to help make camp the best experience for both Serving and Victory Families. Being able to be a part of this process and witness/learn from those who have more experience in both therapy and VLC made a lasting impression on me as a student wanting to soak in as much as I could.”

Rachel would love to see Victory Lane Camp take place in her home state of New Jersey in the future. Rachel expressed her hope further, “I personally know so many people with special needs, and I would love to give them the chance to experience it without having to travel far from home.”

More than professional experience, these student therapists are thankful for the growth seen in Victory Kids and families as well as the connections made with the VLC community. Adam shared, “I was able to see so many victories throughout both camps, but the best victory of them all was the community that was created between Victory and Serving Families. A lot of Victory Families have never had this opportunity to take the family camping or out for longer than an afternoon due to fatigue or difficulty with all the circumstances. By having a whole community work together, some Victory Families were able to breathe for the first time knowing everybody was there to serve.”