MAURICE’S FIRST SUMMER AT CAMP MASSAWIPPI
My eyes welled up and my heart was beating uncontrollably as the bus pulled away with Maurice. I waved frantically until the bus disappeared from sight. Had I done the right thing, sending my son to camp for five nights?
It was the hardest decision I’d ever made in my life.
Despite my initial doubts, it was also one of the best choices I made for myself, my other children, and for Maurice.
This was our first experience sending our 8-year-old special needs son to an overnight camp.
The idea first came to me when one of my twin boys asked me why we never go on family trips during the summer like other families. We’ve always been limited in our outings and stayed close to home, as Maurice requires many special accommodations. He’s in a wheelchair and is non-verbal, so we’re always concerned about where we can change and feed him. As well, there are only a few activities that he’s interested in.
That’s why we finally decided to send our Maurice to Camp Massawippi, and to take the twins for a car trip to spend a few days in Niagara Falls.
I reached out to Camp Massawippi to see if they had room for Maurice, and they had one spot left. It was a big step for me – trusting him to people who don’t know him. Would they know when he was hungry or needed something? Would they understand him the way I do? Speaking to the staff reassured me, and I filled out all the forms, providing plenty of information about Maurice and his needs.
Of course, I called later in the day to see that he had arrived safely at camp and was doing well, and again just before we left for our trip the next day. They reported that Maurice was happy, that he’d slept well, and that he was enjoying himself.
The twins had a great time on our little vacation, and we as parents were thrilled to be able to play with them without limitations for the first time.
But the most important part is that our son Maurice had a wonderful time at camp!
When we picked him up five days later, he was all smiles. We learned that he was the youngest camper that session, and that everyone took care of him. We were even told that an older hearing-impaired camper made it his mission to see that Maurice had a great first stay.
His favorite moments included bonding with the other campers and the staff in his cabin, and the adapted dancing activity. He also had lots of fun being a little prankster, apparently laughing all the time, pranking people here and there!
Maurice has already insisted that he wants to go back next summer, and we hope to give him the opportunity.
Maurice’s proud mom