Being a parent to a child with special needs is an adventure. We quickly learned that while it may close some doors, it opened many more and introduced us to amazing people along our journey.
It was definitely that way as we learned about Camp Summit. You see, as a parent who was suddenly in search of answers, ideas, and reassurance about how to raise our child with a disability, we kept hearing about Camp Summit. I first heard about Camp Summit at a conference. Austin was about to turn one, and I didn’t realize there would be opportunities for him to participate in camp. Since Austin was so little, I put it in my “someday in the future” file.
Now jump forward 5 years…in the span of just a few months, people from 3 very different areas of our lives urged us to check into Camp Summit…Austin’s teenage babysitter, another mom from the neighborhood, and our case worker. So when Austin turned six we registered him for his first session.
We were still apprehensive about sending a non-verbal kid with intellectual disabilities, health issues, and toileting needs to a week-long camp over an hour away. And we were sure no one would be able to care for our child the way he needed. The first time Austin went to camp, we were very nervous - but not him - he was ready for ADVENTURE!
From that first session, Camp Summit has provided our son opportunities to gain independence and form his identity and interests in a way we cannot. He absolutely loves the activities at camp. Archery, horseback riding, the zip line and ropes course, the swimming, karaoke…all of it. He adores the staff and loves making friends. The counselors are amazing, and many give up their spring breaks and summers to be with my kid!
Austin has been to four sessions now and would never forgive us if we didn’t keep sending him. My husband and I have finally relaxed, and we now look forward to the respite Camp Summit provides our family. During our week off, we enjoy a couple of date nights, we get some extra special time with our daughter, and we even carve out time for ourselves.
When Austin returns home, we are well-rested and excited to learn about his week at camp. While he may not answer many of our questions, he tells us about camp through the awesome journal the counselors send home, and he shows us what he did on the camp map. He loves to watch the camp DVD over and over and over.
The smile on Austin’s face when he sees us begin to pack the camp trunk is proof enough that Camp Summit is very important and dear to our whole family.