Hearing about Camp Southern Ground was music to my ears.
A friend told me. Look it up online, she said. It’s a camp for special-needs kids.
I couldn’t get home to my computer fast enough.
You see, I have two boys, and both are autistic. My older son is high functioning and has successfully gone to YMCA camp the past two summers.
My younger son is non-verbal. He has a full-time aide at school. He only eats four things. He makes funny noises.
Trust me, there’s no camp for a kid like him.
Even though he is sweet and gentle. He loves being outside, is wonderful with other children, and even rides horses (hippotherapy). He would have a blast sleeping in a tent, playing in a creek, and even roasting a marshmallow (he’d never eat it, of course.)
Basically, he’s just a great nine-year-old kid who doesn’t talk, can’t tie his shoes, and occasionally wets the bed.
But he can’t go to camp. Even though he has no physical disabilities or mental handicaps. He requires no special equipment, just a little more supervision and patience. But it doesn’t matter. He would never be welcome at any “typical” camp.
And, you know, camp is a huge deal. For many of us, camp was our first real stab at independence, and the source of countless memories and lifelong friendships.
I desperately want that for my son. His life is filled with challenges, and always will be. He deserves the opportunity to experience camp. He deserves to be a kid as much as any other kid.
Maybe even more.
And now, thanks to Mr. Brown, he will get to. Just the thought of my beautiful, amazing son at camp brings tears to my eyes.
I simply can’t wait until the day I can tell him he gets to go to camp like his brother.
I can already see the smile on his face.