Special Needs Kids and Summer Camp

Yesterday we dropped Nicman off at summer camp. It’s his third year at this particular camp. He always has a blast. His smile is so infectious that he was featured in a local newspaper as well as on the camp website. I’m always so touched by the staff and counselors who are willing to be a home away from home to our kids so that they can have a real camp experience (and families can get a real break!)

I stumbled across a post by GratefulForGrace and was so moved by it. She speaks honestly about the joys and challenges of volunteering at a special needs camp, and how it changed her life. She also heartily recommends more young people should do it.

The one point she made that kind of got me was when she mentioned “having to take care of bodily needs that were personal and not my own.” You see, a few years ago I remember someone at a summer event at a different time and place making a rather edgy comment that they *might* have to do that for my son. My stomach kind of flopped. It was one of those slap-mom-in-the-face moments of special needs parenting.

Some of our kids are always going to need help handling their personal care. This aspect of disability ministry isn’t the most glamorous, but it is reality.

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. John 13:14-15.

As a special needs mom, I likewise have had to learn to die to myself in many ways over the years. Don’t get me wrong…I’m very human, very temperamental and prone to complaining at times. Sometimes I wonder how long I’ll have to do it and if it will ever stop.

But while there are some challenges involved in volunteering at a special needs summer camp, I’m always blown away by the smiles on the faces of the volunteers when I pick him up. They’re having a blast. I’m frequently told by volunteers that they get back way more than they give.

To all of you wonderful folks who are volunteering at special needs camps and disability ministries and ministering to our kids with love and compassion…thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Have you found a camp for your special needs child? What has your experience been?