You did it – you took the leap of faith and your child is at camp for special needs children, Camp Lee Mar’s awesome 7-week summer camp program!
That’s so exciting! – But now what do you do?
For many parents and families this is the first time their child with special needs has been away from them for an extended period of time. The run up to camp has been exciting and kept everyone occupied, but now the quiet house and daily routines no longer needed can create an empty feeling. It is hard for parents adjust to not needing to be “on” all the time for their child because the person they are used to caring for and focusing on is not there. So while the camper is having a great time with new friends at Camp Lee Mar, the parents are at home feeling a little lost.
So what can you do while your child is away?
Camp Photos – look at the camp photos, but not too much.
Although our daily uploads to www.campleemar.smugmug.com and social media are amazing and can provide reassurance when you see your camper’s smiling face, when viewed in excess, sometimes the photos make parents miss their child even more. What you can do is use those photos to send as postcards or copy and paste them into a word document and send your child a letter with a camp photo. Don’t spend too long in front of the computer waiting for photos to load. If you are feeling anxious, just give us a call at camp to check-in. We love to hear from parents.
Practice some self-care
Take a little time for yourself, call camp to check in on your camper if you need to, but then relax. It is okay to do some of the things you may not have had time for during the school year! It can be a foreign feeling to have some “extra” time, but make the most of it! Camp visiting day will be around the corner, and then it will be the end of camp.
Spend some extra time with your other children.
Children who have a sibling with special needs frequently find themselves acting as mini caregivers. They often cannot go as a family to certain events or outings because it is too much for their sibling with special needs. They understand that sometimes things have to be done a little differently in their family because of their sibling’s needs. This is the perfect time to really connect with your other children with no restrictions or concerns. The focus can be solely on them. This is a time to build and strengthen family bonds.
Do something just for you and maybe spend some extra time with your partner or friends!
This is the opportunity to recharge your batteries and do something just for you. Go and visit somewhere the kids would not enjoy, do a home improvement project, or go on a date night.
Reach out to old friends! Your child is making new friendships, maybe use some of this time to connect with some of your friends. There will be more time for adult social events with your camper away, so use it to connect with friends you haven’t had time to see in a while without the worry of needing to find a babysitter!
Take a step back and re-evaluate your plans for the upcoming school year.
The Camp Lee Mar experience is an amazing time full of learning, fun, and growth for your child. Giving your child the opportunity to attend a camp for special needs children is a gift that will provide them with the opportunity for personal growth, fun childhood memories, and life-long friendships. During the time your child is at Camp Lee Mar you should give yourself the gift of reconnecting with yourself and being able to take a step back to see what an amazing parent you are!
“Each summer at Camp Lee Mar has brought greater skills and self-organization and a growing belief in his independence. He has proven to us that with the right kind of support, he can and will find his place in this world and he will thrive. The way Ari and all the staff have created a fun, safe place for him to grow while giving our family a chance to rest, refresh, and renew, we are so very grateful.” – A Camp Lee Mar Parent
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!