Even though I have never attended camp, and had no idea what it was all about, I did not want my son, my only child, to miss out on the experience. The first time Omar attended camp; he was just 7 years old. He looked so sad and didn’t want to stay, but we all knew it was for the best.
As my husband and I left camp that day, I cried. I’m not going to lie â€‘ I almost fainted. I was excited for him and yet so scared. Though we lived just an hour away from the camp, I wanted to go back and get him. I called that night and spoke with his counselor and read a prayer, begging him to write it down so he could recite it to Omar. I had a tough time and was totally “kid sick.” But as days passed, I felt more comfortable. It helped that he wrote letters telling us how much he missed us, but at the same time was having a blast.
Much to my surprise, I was judged harshly for sending my son to camp. I heard comments like, “Are you just crazy? I would never!” Was I being judged letting him go? Do others think I keep him wrapped up in a bubble at our home? I’m glad we let him go.
My son and other campers embark in outdoor adventures and indoor activities, are unplugged (no technology!), relax and actually be kids. All three camps have been safe, fun and low-pressure environments that have offered my son fun activities, life-long friendships and lasting memories. Omar’s experiences have always been wonderful – he says it’s a “magical place.”
My husband and I also get a little break and don’t feel guilty about it. Kids need a break from their parents too. I know Omar gets the break he needs by going to camp, and at the same time we are giving him the opportunity to live and thrive without us being with him 24/7.
Camp teaches something that school doesn’t. It is designed to build confidence and support self-esteem in an encouraging and nurturing atmosphere. In a medically sound environment, camp helps kids develop skills and teambuilding methods – they explore nature and are taught riding, horsemanship skills and swimming. They participate in arts and crafts and have an opportunity to discover and display their skills in a talent show as well as in a recording studio! It was at camp that Omar experienced one of his most important skills – he learned to self-infuse!
Attending camp has transformed my son, helping him become a well-rounded individual. He benefits from the space and the downtime to learn critical skill sets that will serve him well in the future. Omar has had the opportunity to test himself outside his home and learn what he is capable of, which will help him connect on a deeper level with others. Unlike his first time, now when we drop him off at camp, he wants us to leave as soon as we let him out of the car! When the week is over, Omar has the “camp blues.” He doesn’t want the adventure to end.
Lastly, I want to say thank you – to the donors and corporate sponsors, to the chapters and foundations, to all the angels that give of their time and energy making camp possible for my son, and to Mr. Paul Newman, for thinking outside the box and building this magical place for children who have been diagnosed with chronic life-threatening conditions.
Mily lives in New Jersey with her husband, Harry, and her son, Omar.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.