Wednesday, May 22, 2013

And now we are 17

When I started this blog early in 2009, my son was 12, and I was a much-younger 50-something.

Who's grown more?  He is now a deep-voiced, manly,  6'4" man; calm, self-possessed, mature, able to function without me.  I, on the other hand, am shorter, fatter, weaker, slightly less-sharp, and more dependent on him.

My work here is pretty much done.  I am well-aware that I am one of the lucky ones: a parent whose ASD child has made a miraculous recovery.  Contrary to what the doctors say, it is *not* because of me.  Yes, he has had good parenting and good interventions, but every parent knows the hard truth that you can do all the right things and still get a bad result.  I credit God, plain and simple.

As he sails off independently, he will no longer be my significant other, rendering the blog purposeless.
If there are other parents out there who would like to caucus, I am happy to share my experience.  Beyond that, know that the age of miracles is not dead.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A word from the 16-year-old

My experiences at Camp Kodiak have been amazing. I am going to share some of them with you. Camp Kodiak is in Ontario, Canada, near Georgian Bay. It was started in 1991 for the purpose of giving a regular camp experience to kids with ADHD, Autism and other learning disabilities. However, it has grown into a place where anyone can go for a great camp experience, regardless of their abilities. Camp Kodiak is a prodigious place where you can make friends for a lifetime. The people you meet  become like a second family and the camp, like your home away from home.  I have been going to Camp Kodiak for six years now. In these years I have had some of the best experiences of my life so far.

The first year I went to camp I was apprehensive as most anyone would be who is going for the first time to a faraway place. I was 9 years old at the time and I had never traveled away from home on my own. Although this was not my first time on an aeroplane, flying to Canada unaccompanied was quite an experience. When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted by a detachment of counselors who were sent to receive the campers and accompany them on the three hour, coach bus ride to complete the journey to camp. As we finally rolled into camp in the mid-afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see a crowd milling about, waiting to greet us.  Stepping off the bus, I was greeted by one of my counselors to be, Jen Bollan. She took me to collect my bags and then went off to our cabin area where I would spend the next month.

One experience from that year that stays with me is the overnight out-trip that we took by canoe to an alternative camp site.  I have never (so far) experienced a more powerful thunderstorm than the one that came that night. This was very scary as the ground was shaking and I was feeling it quite directly as I was in a tent. Other than the thunderstorm, it was a fairly uneventful out-trip.
When signing up, you are given two options for what your weekday mornings at camp will look like. These are appropriately entitled “option 1” and “option 2” where option 1 is academic and option 2 is an elective. That year my parents had opted to put me in academics. Basically I just really did not want to do this at all. There were some days where I would get my work done and earn the opportunity to participate in more desirable activities later in the day. Other times, I struggled to complete my academic work and had to stay back from normally scheduled, daily activities. These activities included watersports, land sports and crafty things. Looking back, my academic refusal seems ironic because this past year now I was actually working as a tutor in the academic program.
For about three years, I was a non-kneeling knee boarder. I would simply lie on my board on my belly and enjoy being towed around the lake. Eventually, I got up on my knees and have enjoyed being a more proficient knee boarder ever since. In fact, this past summer, I earned a gold award for my sweet boardin’ skillz. I was very excited to earn this award because it was proof that I had put time and dedication into learning and practicing and improving a new skill. This showed me that it is important to have difficult, yet reachable goals.

A final experience I want to share with you about Camp Kodiak is the time when I got to participate in choreographing a play. Each year during first session, a play is put on for the parents on visitor’s day. Last year (2012) the play was, “Peter Pan.” I helped think of the choreography for this play and got to teach it to the other campers. This experience was difficult at first and as I got into more, it became easier and flowed better.  There were three main people involved in the play: Keagan, Hannah and Alana.  Most of my time was spent working with the head choreographer, Hannah, who was one of the counselors at Camp. I enjoyed working with her as we got along and worked well together. On visitor’s day, when all the parents had taken their seats for the play, one of our leaders greeted the crowd and talked about who had helped with the production. I was named as one of the choreographers and this made me feel proud. I felt very good about my efforts and involvement in this play.

In conclusion, the times I have spent at Camp Kodiak have been some of the best and most memorable of my life. I am very happy that I am able to continue going to camp for these experiences. I know that I am loved there and this makes me very happy and proud. I look forward to continuing my growth as I progress in the L.I.T (Leader in Training) program over the next two years. Ultimately, I hope to become a J.C. (Junior Counselor) leading to an experience of becoming a counselor. Camp Kodiak has been an integral part of my life and I am very thankful for this.
P.S. – Thank you Dave Stoch