Friday, August 3, 2012

Family Camp at Camp Holiday Trails

I've written before about Camp Holiday Trails, the local camp for children with special health needs. We've had a blast attending Family Day in the past, which is a single-day event.

This year, we decided to do Family camp!  Since we just had a beach vacation, Jason and I didn't have lots of time off work...Annette came with us, and I left during lunch and rest time and Jason visited when he could.  We got around the camp by golf cart or E used her crutches.

There were several other families (six?), all with children with different needs.  Again, Elena was the only one with an obvious motor impairment (although, not the only one with CP).  I am constantly amazed at the staff--the counselors are always ready to help, always ready to involve Elena, and everyone has a fantastic time!  Even in the summer heat, or the sudden rainstorms, or with challenging events--nothing seems to intimidate this camp.  They are incredible.

Challenge course!  Elena decided to try the rock wall on her own this year.  In years past, she's had someone right with her during the climb.  She was the only kid in a full-body harness (with the exception of Vivian and her friend A, both of them 3 yrs old).

E on the way to the top

She did it!

Vivian is ready!

Vivian made it a short way--her feet slipped, and she didn't like being suspended by her harness.  She was DONE.

After that, the kids made up their own carnival games. They used cardboard, paint, cups, ramps, dress-up clothes--anything they could find.  At Elena's suggestion, we made "Pirate Golf", where you try to putt a ball into a pirate ship.  At the end of the day, there was a great carnival celebration!   The kids got tickets for playing in each other's games, and they could redeem these tickets for cool prizes.  Everyone LOVED it!

Stephen came to the carnival!  WE LOVE STEPHEN!

Viv playing Pirate Golf
We also got to tie-dye shirts for our family.  The girls enjoyed picking their own colors, and we got to wear them home on our last day at camp.

We had a waterfront adventure--both girls liked riding in a canoe!

E's ride

"Fearless" Vivian at the front of the boat

 We went fishing!  The girls weren't patient enough to catch one, but I did!

Catch of the day
We also used the paddleboat.  E was disappointed that she couldn't reach the pedals...she was looking forward to helping me power the boat.

one more ride

Every day there was also a free swim time in the pool.  Both girls swam every day.  Vivian preferred her swim vest (she was the only one to use one, besides E) and Elena ended up ditching hers after the first day.  The shallow end of the pool was only 2 feet deep, so E could touch the bottom.  That didn't mean she was safe--if she slipped, she didn't always remember to put her feet down or try to swim up to the surfact, so I had to be right next to her and extremely attentive.  She made a HUGE amount of progress in those three days--from needing a Mommy rescue every 5 minutes or so to only needing one or two every half hour.  She also did a great job swimming for a few feet (her version of doggie paddle)  while wearing goggles, and enjoyed doing this back and forth across the shallow end without drinking too much of the pool water.  (I need to get the kids swim lessons, but I haven't been able to fit it in yet this summer.)

Both girls got to try archery!  Here is Dustin helping Elena.  I assumed I'd be holding her waist, but instead they grabbed a chair for her--it was a great idea.  Elena had a hard time pulling the bowstring all the way back (lots of kids did), but she was able to hold the loaded bow and release the arrow, hitting the target!

Archer Elena

Vivian needed more help, but still she loved the experience.  She was SO proud of herself!

Archer Vivian

We all sang silly songs, and enjoyed a last campfire.  We sang silly songs, and made a "wish boat" where we had to whisper a wish into the boat.  The boat had a candle, and we lit it and set it free.  We had lots of wishes...Elena wished she could be in the olympics, Viv wishes she can swim fast and that she is Spider-Man, Elena wanted to swim without a vest, and all of us made a wish to come back next year.

Campfire Cutie

S'mores with Katie
Huge thanks to Katie, our family counselor, and to the rest of the CHT staff.  Katie helped take care of E and Viv, especially when I had to be at work, or in the pool, sometimes even at bedtime.  And thanks to Annette, who joined our family for camp days, even though the summer heat isn't her favorite thing!

E, Viv, and Katie


Anonymous said...

Great shot with the arrow E!

Josephine Andersen said...

This looks so awesome!! Loved all the pictures - what an amazing experience! I also loved the girls' wishes :)

Denise Kaw said...

Loved hearing that your family decided to attend summer family camp!! Got even more excited, almost teary, that E made it to the top without any help!! Enjoyed reading your blog post about the summer as I was unable to make it to camp at all this summer. The girls have gotten soo grown up!
Much love from an old CHT counselor,