As parents we often second guess our decisions while trying to do the best for our children. Without a doubt, the best thing I did for my oldest child (who is about to turn 13) was to arrange for her to attend overnight summer camp when she asked at the grand old age of 6!
Gemma had grown up at Camp Lee Mar over her summers and was ready for her own experiences away from me. However, when she first asked about her own sleepaway camp experience my first thought was to hold her back. How could I be sure she was ready? Would she be safe? What about her showering? At age 6 she would still need help with so many things. Would she be able to voice her wants and needs with new people? I had so many concerns and doubts. Then, just as I was ready to take the leap and sign Gemma up for camp one of my friends said . . .
“Why would you send your child away to camp? – I could never do that! I love my kid too much.”
At the time I moved the conversation along and smiled – but that was hard. It was hard to think that someone thought I did not love my child, or that I would send her away to have a break. In actual fact, this was going to be the opposite, I loved my child enough to let her go! I loved her enough to take a deep breath and not let my fears hold her back. After I thought about this long and hard, Gemma went away for her first summer camp experience. To this day I believe this was the best parenting decision my husband and I ever made for her. Our child came back happy, confident, and with a level of independence that only a sleep away camp experience can provide.
I think about struggling with my decision to “send my child away” to camp when talking to new or prospective camp parents. Sending your child to a special needs camp follows much the same journey. You know your child needs something more over the summer so you tentatively search summer programs for kids with special needs. Then you find a camp for special needs children. You call camp and your journey begins.
I speak to parents, who like myself, second guess their decision. Is this camp the right fit? Should my child go to a special needs camp? Will my child be understood? Will my child make friends? There are many summer programs for kids with special needs – how do I know this is the right one? And the biggest question – how do I find the strength to let my child go?
We can be there to help you with the decision making process, we can give you suggestions and advice leading up to the summer, but the most important feedback comes from your child when you call camp or see them on visiting day.
“Camp Lee Mar has been life changing for our family. It is truly the MOST special place. The staff is beyond incredible. Every day my daughter asks when she can go back to camp. When you have a child with special needs, it is hard to imagine them away from you, safe, properly cared for, and thriving. This is the place where you can feel 100% comfortable that your child is in the best possible hands. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Lee Mar.”
– A current Camp Lee Mar parent.
Each and every one of our campers comes from an amazing family.
Families that knew that they would struggle with personal fears and anxiety about letting their child go to a sleep away special needs camp, but knew that the emotional and social growth their child would experience would give them the confidence they need going into a new school year.
Families that knew they would miss their child SO MUCH during the summer, but knew that the independence their child would gain from camp would be life changing.
Families that love their child so much that they have the strength to let their child experience an amazing summer at Camp Lee Mar!
Written by Lynsey Trohoske
My name is Lynsey Trohoske, I am the assistant director at Camp Lee Mar. I have three amazing children, my middle child happens to be on the autism spectrum and is a camper at Lee Mar. I joined camp as a counselor in 1998 and loved the campers and their families so much that Camp Lee Mar became my second home!