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Special Camp for Special Kids

  • By: David Kartzinel
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Last year a friend told me all about Special Camp and how much her son loved it.    She assured me that it was safe and they had a nurse on staff.  Games, friends, bowling, the beach, the zoo, Partyopolis, pizza, amusement parks, why not?  Mom’s fear factor, the all day camp factor, Josh’s diabetes and the cost kept me from giving it a try.  I told myself that Josh enjoyed hanging with me all summer long!  Really?  What teen doesn’t like hanging with other kids during the summer?

This year I finally got a clue and decided to “risk” it.  Of course this camp has been around for 20 years working with kids who have all different disabilities so I just had to have a little faith and trust!  We applied months before and after our interview with staff Josh was accepted!  Okay, I was glad but again nervous.  We went to the new camper orientation in June to meet the staff including the nurse who would take care of Josh’s insulin needs.  Everyone we met was awesome and very friendly.  Josh tends to be a bit shy so I couldn’t tell what he thought of it.

The only person we didn’t meet was Josh’s buddy who would be his one on one counselor.  We had said it could be male or female, Josh would enjoy either.  The camp works hard to match campers and counselors and we were told Josh’s counselor would call us before camp began.  Josh’s counselor called and introduced herself.  She sounded awesome and I started relaxing a bit!

Day 1 of camp came!  I was a little nervous and packed lunch, snacks and diabetic supplies.  Josh was happy to be going.  We arrived at camp and went to sign Josh in.  His counselor, Brianna came right over to us.  She had a big smile and was so friendly!  I met the nurse and went over instructions with her and Brianna.  I was ready to go so I told Josh good bye.  I was still a bit nervous but believed he would be fine.

At 4:00 I was back at camp to pick him up.  He had an awesome time and he and Brianna really seemed to enjoy their time together.  She gave him a big hug goodbye and we went home.

The rest of the week was awesome!  The camp sent us links so we could see pictures from camp.  Brianna even texted us a picture of Josh from the zoo!  Each night Josh would talk more about camp and Brianna.  Obviously he loved it!!

The last day of camp when I was dropping Josh off he actually pushed me away and said “time to go!”  I had been replaced by an awesome teen girl!  I loved it!  That afternoon the camp had their picnic and awards ceremony.  Dr Jerry and I both went and he finally got to meet Brianna.  Brianna gave Josh the Tickle Monster award because he loves to tickle and be tickled!  A perfect award for him!  What an awesome experience and I’m glad I finally let go of my fears and let Josh enjoy camp!  The only problem is now I wish it was longer than a week!    She also wrote a beautiful note to Josh that I will end with.

Brianna wrote this to Josh:

“Dear Joshua,
What a great week it’s been!  Never in my life have I met anyone as optimistic, enthusiastic, and easy going as you!  This week your constant smiles, laughs, and tickling has made me so happy, and I feel truly blessed to have met you this summer.  I had the best time at the zoo with you, and watching your face light up when we saw all of the animals!  Also, the beach was SO much fun when we had a splashing war and started playing tag.  Your energy and ability to have a blast in any situation has been such an inspiration to me, and you have helped me realize how important it is to stay optimistic and enjoy the silliness in life.  Thank you so much for being such a wonderful friend to me this week, Josh!  I will always remember the fun we had and the laughs that we shared!  I hope you had as much fun as I did!
From, Brianna”

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