The Last Day of Camp

I never went to camp as a kid.  Having six kids and a single parent, my Mom could never even conceive of sending one of us to camp.  But my dauhter’s life is very different, thanks to a wonderful man named David.  For the past three years, my daughter has been able to go to Apachi Camp and have a one on one aid with her for 8 straight weeks of fun.  We could never swing this by oursleves, but this angel named David, who has healthy children and likes to share and give back for his many blessings, has paid for Shea’s camp and allowed her to go.

She has no idea what a gift this is, what an experience she gets to have in this camp.  When you go to the camp it is like it’s own little country, full of tiny people and happy counselors and activites and music coming from every corner.  They are in a world of their own on the camp grounds, and their days are filled from start to finish with fun.  The counselors could not be happier or more kind, and they start that vibe of fun the minute the day begins.  The kids get to do sports, swim twice every day, go boatig, climb walls, dance, do art projects, cook and have mad science. 

My daughter started the summer knowing two other girls in her group, and now she has lifelong friends.  It seems like everywhere we go this summer, there is a kid who is staring at Shea.  I am used to this, because most kids stare at her when she goes somewhere on her walker.  But these kids always come up to her and say “Don’t you go to Apachi with me?”

Last Sunday we went to Shea’s camp show for the summer, where her group got up to preform a dance to Katy Perry’s song Fireworks.  The camp director got up to talk about how the campers have changed over the summer, have gained confidence and compassion and independence.  I immediately felt myself tearing up.  As the tears flowed down my cheeks, my husband gaped at me whispering “What is wrong????”  I couldn’t tell him, I couldn’t dare let myself speak, because I knew I would be in a full on bawl if I did.  Then is was my daughters turn, with her aid Sydney holding her up for her dance, with all of the other girls.  Her smile, her confidence, having Sydney behind her supporting her as she had all summer – it was too much.  I was crying full on.

I just cannot express in words what this means to my little girl.  How this opportunity to be like everyone else, and to experience everything that typical kids do, and to just be a part of something that is truly magical  is something that she could only have because of a man she has met once.  It is a blessing that is beyond mere words, and the feelings I have as a parent are obviousley some that oevrwhelm me. 

So my thanks and love go out to David, to the many people who make up Keshet, to the camp director for making such a great program, to the counselors and their smiling faces, to the bus driver who kept my daughter safe everyday, and to Sydney, who made Shea independent, confident, and happy for the last 8 weeks.  Nothing could ever repay this gift, and my daughter will have to grow up and pay it forward when she can to help another child.  I am confident that she will !

Patty

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