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Bonnie Camp, MD

Pioneer in Early Childhood Development


(May 2017) Bonnie W. Camp, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and psychologist specializing in early childhood development, has received the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s highest alumni honor, the Silver and Gold Award.

The award recognizes excellence in humanitarianism, citizenship, and professionalism for outstanding service to the community and contributions to the art and science of medicine.

Dr. Camp, a pioneer and leader in the fields of pediatric medicine, has published more than 100 articles, abstracts, and presentations and workshops on early childhood development and language. Her early work in language development and social behavior in very young children is still cited today, nearly 50 years after her first publications.

Dr. Camp attended CU medical school when women were a small minority of the class – 10 percent or less - and joined the pediatric faculty when there were only a few other female faculty members.  She graduated in 1965.

For 21 years Dr. Camp has worked with Bright by Three, whose mission is to help new parents make sure their little ones get the best start in life. Its work is based on the premise that 85 percent of a baby’s intellect, personality, and social skills are developed in the first three years of life. 

Dr. Camp has written many of the materials now being used by more than 17,000 families in Colorado who are in the Bright by Three program.  In 2000, the materials she developed earned her the American Academy of Pediatrics Education award.

When the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine founded a clinic to help build interdisciplinary clinical training and researcher centers in developmental disabilities, Dr. Camp served as its director from 1985 to 1991. By then the center had been designated The John F. Kennedy Child Development Center, now known as JFK partners.

In 1996 Dr. Camp was awarded the Career Teaching Scholar’s Award by the CU Department of Pediatrics for her outstanding contributions to pediatric education.

Dr. Camp is regarded as integral to the development and validation of the Denver Developmental Test. She developed a program called Think Aloud, which helped school age children with poor impulse control. Think Aloud was successfully implemented in the Denver Public Schools.

In addition to her nationally and internationally recognized work, Dr. Camp has spearheaded numerous fundraising efforts to establish visiting professorships and lectureships, such as the annual John J. Conger, Ph.D. Lectureship and Visiting Professorship in Child Mental Health Policy. The annual visiting professorship is designed to promote the awareness of the plight of children and facilitate continued improvement in human health and development. (Dr. Conger was Acting Chancellor of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center from 1984-85 and the dean of medicine from 1963 until 1968.)

And recognizing the extraordinary challenges and accomplishments women in medicine faced a half century ago, Dr. Camp has led efforts to establish endowed professorships in recognition of the late Dr. Lula Lubchenco, class of 1939 (for whom the Lulagram diagnostic is named), and the late Dr. Ruth Fuller, a member of the Department of Psychiatry. 

Dr. Camp established the W.K. Frankenburg Lecture in honor of Dr. William Frankenburg, a former professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at CU.  The Frankenburg Lecture is supported by the Frankenburg-Camp Endowment of the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation. The endowment promotes pediatric training, research and advocacy in the early identification and prevention of developmental problems in otherwise normal children who are at risk of becoming environmental casualties.