Last Friday I spent the day at Camp Arrowhead with Harrison today, because we did not have a PCA available to go with him for feeding and toileting assistance.
I sat in an air conditioned supply room, eating a pb&j sandwich (because that’s the best brown bag lunch for camp!) and getting work done, so it really wasn’t that bad. He still had his teen volunteer with him, but if I had to actually be his partner today, I would have, happily. After all, in my past life I coordinated about 40 counselors and their disabled campers at a day camp in Maryland, and it was an awesome job! I’m a little too old for this now, though, and I’m sure my kid doesn’t want to spend the day at camp with his mom, but like I said, if I had to do it I would.
Why not just skip camp today and let him sleep in?
That was tempting. But it’s camp. He goes for one week every summer (if his summer school program wasn’t so fabulous he would be at camp for all six weeks) and he loves it so much!
A Very Special Camp
This place has been such a find. A full day of outdoor camp. Swimming (when circumstances allow), sports, music, games, arts and crafts, yoga, skits, prom, special events…the list goes on.
Campers present with a full range of disabilities: autism, cerebral palsy, medically complex- you get the picture.
Every camper gets a one-to-one (or two-to-one if necessary) teen volunteer as their partner. You could not ask for a better ratio than that! And these teenagers complete an extensive training before camp begins, every summer. Perhaps the most valuable piece of information they learn is that every camper is different. There might be several campers with similar diagnoses, but each one of those campers is an individual, every one of them is different.
The Camp Director Melissa is a gem. She started at Camp Arrowhead as a teen volunteer, then as a staff member. She is a true empath who has learned from everyone she has worked with here over the past 20 years! Melissa has been in the director role for the last 9 years, and hopefully she is not going anywhere soon!
Melissa is not only planning and caring for the campers, she also supervises numerous teenagers who, let’s face it, are still kids themselves. She develops a relationship with each camper, each teen, and the families of those campers and teens. She makes sure to know as much as she can about everyone under her charge and ensure that they all have a positive experience here at camp.
Special Needs Summer Fun
Harrison is at camp here for his 8th summer, and he will keep coming back, even past the age of 22 when disabled children transition to adult services.
And nope, I am not getting paid for this testimonial! If someone you love is disabled and needs a summertime activity, check them out!