Every year around early February, I avidly watch my inbox for emails from The Autism Society of North Carolina. Why? Because that’s when they send out the notice that it’s time to register for Camp Royall‘s Summer Camp. For a child like ours, this experience is priceless. Other camps just don’t fits his needs like this one does because they’re too crowded, loud, and the staff ratio won’t allow him the attention he needs. In short, he cannot attend the camps the other children his age attend. This one, though? This one’s just for him.
Squeaker last went to camp two years ago. The experience of dropping him off all by himself for five full days filled us with trepidation. We’d never left him for that long before. How could anyone possibly know how to fill our shoes for five days and overnight? Not only that, but he was hours away from us. We signed up for the option to have pictures sent to us every day, we got daily phone calls, and we couldn’t have been happier. They got him to do things I never knew he would do and he bonded with his one-on-one counselor very closely. He got treated like a king, but he also got held to expectations. He had his own air-conditioned room, someone to help him bathe, and they tailor his routine around him. All of these things are done while teaching him social skills and getting him to work on crafts and other things. He gets to experience life and have fun away from home.
While he’s having the time of his life, we get to devote more time to our other child. Time that he otherwise doesn’t get with us. We also get a little bit of respite ourselves. This makes us better parents for him and for his brother. It also feels good to hear his happy voice on the phone quickly telling us about his day. Last year, he didn’t talk much, but the small details told in a cheerful voice let me know that he was happy and that felt good. I missed him, and when I saw him again, his hugs felt like magic. The best part of the whole experience is seeing him in the talent show when we come to pick him up. He spelled a word the last time. I can’t wait to see what he does this year.
Of course, we’re working on getting the money together right now for the camp. I have a link on the side bar if you would like to help us fund it. The camp isn’t cheap, but I can’t think of anything more worth it for him. My heart sank last year when we got wait-listed and then didn’t get picked to go. We have until April 21st to come up with the funds to pay or our spot gets given to someone else. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we’ll figure it out somehow, but we still have two holes in the wall to patch up (plus a dent he just added), so anything helps. Knowing that he got into this camp makes me feel joyous. I will feel even more relieved when I know we’ve got our spot secured.