As a first holiday as a family of four it might have been a foolish move but way back in the cold, dark winter going camping with the boys sounded a fantastic idea. In my mind’s eye I appeared vision of he long hot days summer days of my childhood spent travelling round France and Spain with my parents and our old canvas tent. It was so hot that the cassette cases on the parcel shelf of the car melted. Ahh, great days. So I didn’t think twice when I booked up our weekend break, despite the fact that we didn’t own a tent, sleeping bags and I had a husband who hated camping.
As the holiday drew slowly nearer, I slowly began to panic slightly. What was I thinking?! We had to much stuff to buy or borrow, how was my husband (who has part of his spine fused together) going to get any sleep, would my chronically bad sleeping children sleep AT ALL! To stave off the anxiety I began over-planning, days of research were undertaken to choose the best sleeping bag for the boys, several camping shops had to visited to see the possible objects before the best price could be found, lists needed to be made (if in doubt, write a list: feels like doing something but avoids actually doing anything!); but as the summer holidays approached a pile of camping “stuff” started to gather behind the dining table and I slowly stopped panicking and started to get excited.
As it turned out the only things I really needed to worry about were:
Would we be able to fit everything in our car and roof box? Seriously, this is half of our stuff:
I was excited but filled with trepidation, needlessly as it turned out. We could not have picked a better place to start camping as a family, Camp Amazing. Camp Amazing is a weekend camp for families who have a child with complex needs. I always thought that this was a fab idea, but now? Well, now I think it’s a effin fantastic idea! And this is why:
- It’s somewhere where everyone GETS it.
- It’s somewhere where your family is normal and no one stares or thinks what you do or say is odd.
- It’s somewhere where siblings can find friends who walk in similar shoes.
- It’s somewhere where you don’t feel the need to explain your child in any way.
- It’s somewhere where there was something to do for everyone, no matter what.
And after that I should really big up the sibs. Harry is only little so I’m just at the beginning of learning about what it will mean for him to grow up as the only sibling of a brother with a disability but I can say that if he grows up half as kind, generous, tolerant and considerate as the siblings I met at Camp Amazing, I will be so pleased (and, of course, massively patting myself on the back!). I’ve never met a group of kids who can play together all weekend and yet I didn’t see one argument, who can work tirelessly helping out and keeping other children safe and happy. They really were amazing.
So, if you didn’t make it this year, go on, be brave, think about booking for 2014,. I promise you, you’ll make amazing memories and most likely make some new friends, plus you’ll be in at the early years of something really special. Claire, I don’t know if you’ve realised yet but I’ve got a feeling that you’ve started something that is probably going to get a teensy bit massive!
Oh, and if you’re now seriously considering it, here’s a few things I learnt that might be useful:
You can never have enough bibs or clothes, washing them in washing up liquid really doesn’t work out that well!
Bring two pairs of flip flops in case yours break on the first day.
Late nights, discos and sensory processing disorder can be an interesting combination – next time I need to plan in more sensory diet time for calm down periods.
Someone needs to invent an extend-able dog lead type device for two years olds who are always running off, as it’s amazing how quickly they move and how easy it is to disappear in a marquee.
If you have a potty training or just trained child get the potty out when you’re beginning to set up otherwise they will poo on the pitch.
If you can avoid these and our other major pitfall of ripping the tent on it’s first outing, well you’ll be for the best holiday ever!