We feel sooooooooooooooooo good.
Ugh we feel so good
Any of you reading this who have been there just did the hand motions, didn't you? ;) Here's Andrew's version:
Little and I just got back from one amahzing weekend at Camp Courageous Kids in Scottsville, KY.
CCK is a not for profit medical camping facility on a 168 acre farm in Scottsville, KY. It took Andrew and I about 2 hours to get there through some.....interesting....back roads. It was downright terrifying, ya'll. For about 12 miles, the road was only large enough for about 1.5 cars at a time. That means that if someone is coming from the opposite direction, you both have to swerve off the road to avoid a head on collision. Thank you, GPS, for that lovely route you chose for us. Anyway, CCK is a fully functioning campground. They don't water down the activities even though all of their campers (except for siblings on Family Weekends) are special needs/medically complex kiddos.
Little got to do all of the things that your kids do at camp:
He chose to use that big purple ball instead of a regular basketball.
I think this was his favorite thing. We went 3 different times.
arcade/fun zone games
It got wild at the skee ball table. We were all ducking and dodging.
Real arrows here, guys. I told you they don't water down the activities.
He actually hit the paper the target was on!
The horseback riding got to me. I couldn't believe that I didn't have to say one word to the staff about how to handle Little, what not to do, that he would need someone to walk beside him in case his body wore out and he couldn't hold on - they just all knew. They were so prepared and on it. I mean these folks do their homework. I watched him riding around on Rocky and that's when it hit me:
Little isn't "special" here.
THAT'S IT, guys. THAT'S THE JEWEL. I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face. Yes, I know, you all already figured I would cry at some point. But these were tears of relief and of joy in my heart. Tears of gratitude to these people and this place for giving me and Andrew 2 days of NORMALCY. We were in a world where he wasn't the one with the disease. He was just Andrew. We sepnd every day of our lives under the umbrella of Duchenne, but none of that mattered here. Here was just another camper. I can't possibly put into words the release my soul felt. I made 2 of the staff members cry, too. Go me. Ha! I'm glad that they got to really see gratitude from one of the parents' they were helping.
Even the horses were in on it. I watched one of the largest horses I've ever seen up close, slowly and cautiously walk over to a little girl who was laid out in a fully reclined power chair - I don't think she could move much more than her eyes - tubes, beeping machines, etc - and start to nuzzle her. It was so sweet. The horse sniffed and licked and nudged her the way a mama cat tends to her kittens. Just generally fussed over her. Bah. I love horses now.
He was really more into just throwing the bait into the water and watching the smaller fish swim up and fight over it.
THESE GIRLS! Ohhh, these girls. They are who really made everything possible for us. The blonde is Macey and the brunette is Chrystal. They were our personal sponsors for the weekend, except we just referred to them as "Andrew's Girls". Every family at camp was assigned one sponsor, or helper, for the entire weekend. The sponsor did everything the family did, when the family did, however the family needed. The only time they were away from the family was to sleep. I hit the frikkin jackpot with mine. Not only did I get two of them (Macey's family didn't show up, so she asked if she could join ours), but they are both in their final year of their nursing program. So I felt completely at ease leaving Little with them whenever I had to run back to the lodge to grab something or wanted to stay and talk to another family while Andrew wanted to go play in the gym. Chrystal and Macey were so kind and sweet and willing to do whatever Andrew wanted. I miss having that kind of energy! They spoiled him. On Saturday, I counted three ice cream sandwiches in his hand at different times throughout the day. Little just loved his girls. First thing in the morning he would rub his little eyes and ask, "Is Chrystal going to be in the breakfast room with us?". They really spoiled me, too. I didn't know what to do with myself the first night when they would push his stroller and open doors and refill his drink at dinner - it was strange having so much help! I got used to it realquick.
He also got to go swimming and watched a movie under the stars.
He snuggled up to the girls outside on the blankets but it was too dark to get a picture of it. Adorable.
Some of the activities he didn't choose were arts & crafts, woodshop, beauty shop, & baking, although he did manage to sneak into the kitchen and flash his big eyes at the staff in order to secure someone else's pizza roll and cupcake. The stinker.
Camp ended on Sunday after the reveal of the camp painting. It was "Pajama Party" weekend (hence the movie out under the stars late at night), so our picture was of the camp mascot in his pjs.
Our names are on the left hand side, straight across from where his nose should be, on the edge of the canvas.
I've never seen Andrew use so much energy. He just kept going! Usually just one activity like those would've been enough to wear him out for 2 days, but he was just so pumped and caught up in the action that he didn't want to stop. CCK is the location that Nashville's MDA uses for their summer camps, so now when Andrew turns 6, I won't be as anxious about letting him go. There are "no mamas allowed" at MDA summer camp, as Linda Decker likes to remind me.
I really, truly cannot say enough good things about this facility and the staff (both the year round staff and the volunteers). Andrew's Girls even gave up a weekend they should have been studying since they have a big test today, to volunteer. If you get a chance, you should definitely go/send your child. They will leave there uplifted, more confident, and with a lifetime of memories (and so will you if it is a family weekend). Check them out online or call the center for more information.
The Center for Courageous Kids
1501 Burnely Rd