Camp is coming up for the Monster in the very near future.
The last few years, we’ve sent the Monster to part-day summer camps – last summer, as I talked about frequently, was a combination of a special needs camp and a JCC day-camp. The year prior, he went a few mornings a week to said day-camp at the JCC. This summer, he’s going full-time to the all-day day camp run by the JCC.
I didn’t grow up here in Baltimore – I grew up in New Jersey, at a different JCC day camp – so I have no real idea of what this camp is like, what activities they offer, the facilities. (Yes, I’m going to go visit it before the summer, but I’m also not that worried about it, since the wife went there when she was younger.)
When I was a camper, back in the relative Dark Ages, they didn’t have a day camp unit at the camp I went to for special-needs campers. I remember distinctly, when I was a counselor at the same camp, that they had come around to creating a special unit for said campers. Granted, the majority of said children had Downs Syndrome rather than Autism – I didn’t even know what Autism was, back then – but at least they had some program in place for them to have as close to a “normal” summer as they could. By the time I was interacting with those children, I was a swim instructor, and so my knowledge of how they were scheduled essentially was distilled down to when they’d be at the pool.
On the other hand, my wife had a conversation with her father last night, talking about the summer camp program. His thoughts are from those earlier days of special needs camp programs, of some memories of the kids’ program being housed in an old house on the property where it was hot and stifling, segregated from the rest of the campers. (Suffice it to say, that kind of a suggestion to her of what camp could be like for the Monster had her quite upset when she returned home.)
My understanding of what they’re doing with the Monster is not unlike what they’d be doing with him if he were going to be sent to the close-by elementary school – they’re going to partner him with a staffer who is well-acquainted with how his Autism presents, and he’ll be largely integrated with a group at the camp save for where his ESY requires him to be elsewhere. It should be, like it has been for the last few years, an adapted program that mostly gives him the same experience as the other children his own age.
Of course, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, but with camp only a month out, we’ll find out soon enough…