"Mom, did you know that anything is possible? Anything is possible."
"Hey Mom, did you know that some people use forks with their feet? Cool, huh?"
These are 2 of the comments that my son made as we were driving away from hand camp last month.
It all started about 6 months ago. My son doesn't really talk about it, but likes to watch videos and find pictures of people that have a similar physical difference. He's pretty insistent to do everything on his own and plays every sport that is available. He's actually one of my most athletic children, and has a drive that will make him successful with all that he does. While looking at different pictures, I found a camp in Florida offered by Hands 2 Love. I thought the camp sounded really great, and I am always down with a trip down south. I brought up the idea with Ting, and he was thrilled to go! We went back and forth, trying to figure out if we should bring the whole gang or if I should just go down. Based on the website, we couldn't figure out how friendly it would be for a gaggle of preschoolers, and given that it's on a lake we were honestly concerned about safety.
And sleeping arrangements.
My little ones may or may not *ahem* be noisy at night.
I *do* have some little runners, that would giggle at the idea of running into the lake.
The final day that the application was due, my husband suggested that I just fly down with Christian to check it out.
Deal. I had no problem leaving my winter jacket behind and hopping on a direct flight to FL.
My son talked about what camp would be like for months. He asked to look at the pictures every week or so. He requested zip lining. He wanted to know about the beds, the food, the activities. I'll admit, I just didn't know what it would be like, and we would just have to figure it out when we arrived. The packing list was extensive, and we filled a suitcase with our sleeping bags and pillows.
After check in, we grabbed our bags and found our beds. We stayed in a boy cabin, that included lots of bunk beds. There were 20 or so of us in our cabin, including boys, parents, and siblings.
We started to walk around to check out the camp, but Christian was nervous. He didn't want to go on the scavenger hunt or find different locations.
All of his anxiety was gone as soon as he found the GaGa Ball Pit.
He quietly watched the other kids for a few minutes to see how to play, and once he jumped in I couldn't get him out unless it was time for the next activity.
As it turns out, EVERY activity was AWESOME!
My son's goal was to climb to the top of the tower.
As he watched the other kids climb up, he began to doubt himself.
He did so great, though!
However, he put such pressure on himself...
and was pretty upset that he didn't get any higher.
He tried tennis, and really ended up enjoying it.
My personal favorite was watching him with a bow and arrow.
I'm sorry to tell all the other campers, but we actually had the best Camp Pal, Heather.
In fact, the camp is run by a group of incredible volunteers! Former campers, future medical professionals, camp families, AULDS (Adults with Upper Limb Differences), Family Pals, etc.
On prom night, we were serenaded by the gorgeous and amazingly talented Rion Page.
My little date showed me his beautiful handprint on the banner that the campers made.
On the final night of camp, there was a serious card game going on in the cabin.
You know, some typical post-prom fun.
You know, some typical post-prom fun.
The card crew!
I have to post these for my husband, who could not quite believe the living arrangements that I described.
These were our beds, and besides some beastly skeeters that got into the cabin, it surprisingly wasn't bad at all.
Upon leaving, we hit up the beach. Obviously.
Ahhh, I could live here. Seriously.
They need teachers in Florida, right?!
Just to make this the most awesome, amazing vacation ever...
I gave him the option for 1 day at either Disney or Universal Studios.
The Transformer ride sealed the deal for Universal.
Otherwise, we spent as much time at the beach as I could squeeze in.
Shark teeth, as identified by my son.
On our way back to the airport we stopped at one of our favorite places, Angell and Phelps. They have a fantastic chocolate factory tour with samples. Seriously though, everything is amazing~not just the free samples.
Christian even tried the chocolate covered bacon.
For anyone considering hand camp, GO! You won't be disappointed. They even have a teen adventure camp starting this fall.
Until next year, H2L!!
I might just bring the entire crazy crew down!
*If so, I apologize in advance to my future bunkmates.*