Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is Mom Independent Enough for Camp?

William’s at camp.  “Sleep away” camp.  Overnight camp. Camp.

A normal activity for a normal kid.  Thanks to the Autism Society of Minnesota’s “Camp Hand in Hand” and Camp Knutson in Crosslake, children on the autism spectrum get to experience this normal activity.  Granted, their normal involves a 1:1 staff to camper ratio, picture schedules, and big lycra body socks for sensory input, but hey, it’s autism!

I know he will have a fabulous time.  This is what he loves - being outside, in the water, meeting new people, in the water. (Did I mention there’s a lake?) Doing all those camp activities, like fishing, archery, etc.  Thanks to a big-hearted and anonymous donor they will even go off camp for horseback riding.  And, they get to go tubing, the lifeblood of William’s summer.

I am so proud of him for wanting to go.  For being so excited to go - since January.  For saying “I’m nervous” as we pulled up the long wooded driveway at our assigned arrival time.  How wonderfully typical, to be nervous as you arrive to summer camp!

The staff was great, and helped him get settled easily.  Kurt and I dropped off his medications, checked the contact information and we were good to go.  

After our goodbye came the walk to the car. Now, I have lots of practice in walking away with a straight spine and without a backward glance.  He is my third child, after all.  And I know he’s safe and will have a great time.  Then why, 10 hours later, do I have a headache, knot in my stomach and the beginning of a huge stress pimple?

This is a big step towards the almighty concept of INDEPENDENCE.  (Granted, there’s a 1:1 ratio but still, it’s camp. Away. From parents. For five days.) Independence is the goal, the desire, the object of prayer and  sleepless obsession.  It’s what we want.  What we dream of for our kids with autism and other disabilities.  

But it seems the independence thing goes two ways.  Though William and I have had lots of time apart between school, nannies, etc., he has always been a phone call away. A quick text from Kurt or the sitter.  An email update from school.  Now, for five days, I have the challenge of being independent from William.

I just wish I had a Camp Hand in Hand counselor to help me!


  1. When Eli went to camp a couple of summers ago, the hardest part was holding it together when he got back off the bus, coming home...

  2. Greetings Laura. Independence can be hard for all of us. I always find myself holding my breath when I read the posts because I am in such awe of not only William's independence but your own. What strength it takes to be the mother of three! Have no fear as this blog is your camp hand in hand and we as a community are here to be your support. I look forward to the post that shares about William's point of view. Peace and Love.