I loved camp as a kid. If my parents could have afforded it, I would have shipped off the day school ended, and returned the day before it began. I was an awkward kid, with big Sally Jesse glasses and a bad perm, but at camp I found true friends. The kind of friends I failed to make at school, where the label on your jeans mattered more than your personality.
Plus, camp is just plain fun.
I always hoped my children would share my love for summer camp. When my daughter was born, I actually started researching day camps in the area.
I like to plan ahead.
Of course, I didn't plan ahead for Autism.
But, I didn't want Autism to mean she had to miss out on the best part of summer. So, when Katie was in Kindergarten I revised my search.
This time, I researched special needs camps.
The thing was, I didn't want therapy camp. My kid gets therapy at school, and at the time was getting therapy after school almost every day. The last thing I wanted to do (or that she probably wanted me to do) was put her in a camp that spent hours on therapy, instead of things like swimming, and boating, and crafts.
For a while I didn't think this kind of camp existed. Every camp I looked at was insanely expensive, and focused more on the "special needs" part, instead of the "camp" part.
But then a friend forwarded me a list of camps from a random listserv, and I found "the one".
A camp that was made for kids like Katie. That focused a bit on things like social skills, but was 100% camp. With canoes and kayaks and swimming and crafts. With camp outs and s'mores and games. Where K would get to do everything I got to do at camp, just with a 1:2 or 1:1 camper/counselor ratio, and small groups.
And it was only 40 minutes away, which, when you live in the boonies, isn't far at all.
We have found this camp to be far better than any of the inadequate ESY programs our town provides, which my daughter never liked attending, anyway. As she has gotten older (she'll be 9 in January), I have started to realize that a fun summer at camp trumps all the therapy in the world. She gets to be a typical kid, just with a little extra help.
For me, that is priceless. For her, it's just plain fun.
Jen is the mom of two great kiddos, Katie, who is 8, and Ben, who is 5. You can find her blog at Still Looking Up, and you can follow her on Twitter HERE and on Facebook HERE