Camp Awesome

Remember back when school was in session and I used to be sad every single day when I would get a note or an email from the teachers telling me what a bad day Jack had had? Because I remember it vividly.

Jack has been in full-day camp this summer—at the same camp he attended last summer—and every day for the past five weeks I have spoken to the teachers at the end of the day and they have told me, “Jack had a great day!” “Jack was super cooperative today!” “Jack did everything we asked him to!”

Sure, there have been a few scuffles here and there, but not even anything to stress out about. And, sure, it’s camp and not school, but a lot of the things he has to do are definitely non-preferred activities. Jack has even stepped up and above in helping plan the end-of-camp performance he’ll be a part of this Friday.

It’s like he’s a different kid.

But he’s not.

What’s different is the environment.

It’s a small class taught by therapists who know how to teach kids with developmental disabilities in a completely positive environment and who truly believe and take nothing but joy in Jack.

It gives me hope that he will do well in his smaller, special education class at school next year.

But why am I posting about this today? Well. To answer that, I have to go back four weeks, when one of the teachers pulled me aside at the end of the day to talk about Jack’s bike. See, they bike ride every day and I had sent in a bike with training wheels.

They thought Jack was ready to try riding a two-wheeler. Jack has always been hesitant on his bike. He has absolutely NOT been interested in taking those training wheels off. Too bad for him, he’s not in charge of the screwdrivers in the house.

He’s been working on this every day at camp. Last week, they had him ride his bike for me, which was so incredible. At that time, he still wasn’t starting by himself and could only go about ten feet.

Today after camp, they went out in the heat to set up safety cones in the parking lot just for him. (See: Camp Awesome) He showed me that he is COMPLETELY, INDEPENDENTLY RIDING HIS BIKE. He was able to start by himself, turn his bike during his three laps, and stop all by himself.

Starting by himself.
Turning during his three laps.
Stopping by himself.
Oh—and grinning like the proudest kid in the world.
Amazing, huh?

In case you’re wondering, I’ve already pretty much signed Jack up for a new, great program that Camp Awesome will be holding next summer for kids like Jack. Feel free to email me if you’re local and looking for something like this.

34 thoughts on “Camp Awesome

  1. I’m sorta teary over this. I feel so proud. Can I feel proud too? Riding a bike for any kid is a big accomplishment!  Way to Go!

  2. Those pictures are nothing short of awesome. Your description of this camp is almost enough for me to want to pack up and move my boys out there…soooo cool! And Jack?! He’s pretty darn awesome!!

  3. This post touched me because of this bit right here –
    “It’s like he’s a different kid.

    But he’s not.

    What’s different is the environment.

    It’s a small class taught by therapists who know how to teach kids with
    developmental disabilities in a completely positive environment and who
    truly believe and take nothing but joy in Jack.”

    That, Stimey, is just stinkin’ awesome.  And encouraging. So wishing I lived near Camp Awesome!  YAY for Jack on powering through
    to biking without training wheels.  Such a hug accomplishment!

  4. So, so happy for all of you.  

    When my girls learned to ride their bikes, it was a big emotional moment for me.  Because it’s one of the things that I remember so vividly about childhood and I was thrilled to be able to share it with my girls.

    I’ll just bet it was an emotional moment for you to see Jack ride.

    Riding a bike opens up new doors for kids.  I just found out today that REI does group lessons and private lessons for people wanting to learn to ride a bike.  I just thought that was great.

  5. This post is awesome. Such a happy feeling to see one’s kid succeed.
    Nothing like the thrill of 2 wheeling it for the first time!

  6. 1. I don’t live anywhere near you at ALL, but I still want to know where I can find a camp like that! N was in a pretty low-end summer inclusion program these last two years at a local school, and even THAT was fabulous because all the sped teachers worked there and were just great about getting the kids to socialize with one another. N’s never EVER had so many friends at ‘school’ in his life. But it ends the summer before sixth grade, and guess what grade N’s going in to? I need something for a GULP rising middle-schooler for next summer, and I’m terrified at trying to find it.

    2. Can Jack come teach N to ride a bike? He’s 11, and absolutely refuses to even consider it.

  7. My son is 28 and still instinctively starts to peddle backwards when he attempts to ride.  Wasn’t in the cards for him but he drives and that makes him very happy!

  8. Jack is so fantastic!  What an accomplishment!  I still remember that great big feeling of accomplishment and confidence the first time I rode my bike independently.  No wonder he has that big old smile on his face.  Yay Jack!

  9. This is so awesome!  As the mom of a special needs child, I understand how you feel.  To be dealing with all the things your child “can’t” do or all the negative vibes is so difficult for the child and mom.  As you said, for him to be in the right environment with the right people so he can thrive is so amazing.  I am so happy for both of you.  My daughter never did learn to ride a bike so please tell Jack how awesome I think he is.

  10. Yay Jack! I would love to get info on that camp. And Oliver makes me crazy with the training wheels issue. He can ride is bike without them, but refuses to use his bike now because he preferred having the training wheels. We’ve been scootering a lot…

  11. This makes me wish I lived near you so my daughter could go to the same camp and? I’m smiling a big huge cheesy grin at my computer screen because I love this story so much. Yay Jack and yay for staff that get it right!

  12. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when a teacher or counselor understands your kid!!!!   Add me to the list of those who would love to have more info on Camp Awesome.  My little guy is only 4, and we live in Alexandria (maybe too far away), but it might be somwhere to keep in mind in a few years. 

  13. I am so envious of the bike progress! My tall 7 year old boy has training wheels on his bike and had no motivation to work toward taking those training wheels off! I try and suggest, motivate, etc and nothing has worked! Great pictures!
    http://mytwicebakedpotato.

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