Marcus’ Camp Story
From Marcus’ Mother:
Marcus began group swim while I was in the hospital…first class was ok’ish, second class when it was time to get out he had a bit of a meltdown and kicked an instructor. My first reaction was “oh no, is he kicked out?” He was not….we came up with a plan that included what Marcus wanted – more swim time! But there was a class right before and right after his, so the plan was that after class he would go get a snack and then return for free swim.
It worked wonderfully, I think mostly because of the reaction of the Y, they were understanding and willing to let us find a solution. They made Marcus feel welcomed! So…icing and cherry on top. Marcus self initiated taking the swim test..he could not complete all the tests required to swim independent. BUT, he was okay! He continued with lessons, and then again self initiated a re take…and PASSED!! I cannot tell you how proud this kid was of himself. I tear up just writing about it. Had the YMCA not allowed him to fall down and get back up and try again, he never would not have had an opportunity to face his embarrassment and experience compassion and empathy. He would not have had the opportunity to learn to swim with a group of peers and see some kids were better and some kids struggled more than he did. He would not have had the confidence to fail and then try again. He would not have had the reassurance he desperately needs that he is CAPABLE of trying hard and accomplishing a goal. It has really been the highlight of the summer.
Hayes’ Camp Story
At the start of the summer, Hayes was less than enthusiastic to begin camp. It took much prodding for him to get him on the bus, connect with his peers, and participate in any activities. He even regarded the banana boat ride as ‘lame’! Because of the training and support we received from the National Inclusion Project, we knew to be patient and we continued to shower him with positive encouragement throughout the first week. So we were only somewhat surprised that entering the second week, he was racing up the bus steps without even saying ‘Goodbye’ to whoever was dropping him off in the morning! He was excited to be to at camp, he was connecting with friends, and he even participated in the once called ‘lame’ banana boat ride. On the last day of camp as he was being picked up at the bus stop, Hayes approached me with a ‘thank you’ card. He then said, “Thanks for putting up with me for the last two weeks, Wildcat.” There are hundreds of campers that have been in and out of the gates this summer, and they all deserve the same chance that was given to Hayes. No one gave up on him and it made all the difference. The impact a counselor can have on a camper is priceless and that’s what makes this job so rewarding! Thank you for allowing me this opportunity!
Matthew’s Camp Story
From Matthew’s Camp Director:
What a successful summer! A few weeks ago, we had a camper who was obviously very hesitant being in his group. Matthew needed a lot of structure and boundaries to help him participate in camp activities because of some impulse control and sensory issues. Because of your support of the National Inclusion Project, we were able to have the staffing needed to help support him and to help him begin to make connections with his peers. Remarkably the next day, the level of support that he needed dramatically reduced to simple redirections. Matthew’s peers continued to reach out and included him in activities and helped him stay with the group. By the third day, we noticed that he didn’t need as much support and advocated for himself to work more with the group during swim lessons. By Friday, he was initiating conversations with his counselors and eager to stay with his group. Thank you for helping us make a difference for Matthew!
I just wanted to take a minute to send my sincerest thanks to you! For some kiddos, summer camp is a given. For Brooke, it can be a time of stress, anxiety, and insecurity. Not so with Let’s ALL Play. The counselors all embraced and accepted Brooke in a way that lifts her up, boosts her self confidence, and makes her feel like just one of the kids. We cannot tell you how much this means to us and to her. Your support to create the attitude of inclusion is refreshing, uplifting and inspiring. This year, Brooke was especially excited about the performance at the end of the session. She has never participated in a dance performance before and can actually become quite anxious about new situations. Seeing her dance on stage with her friends for the first time was amazing – she was so proud, filled with confidence and pure joy and so were we. Really, you couldn’t even tell which child out on stage had a disability. That is true inclusion – a dream for a kiddo like Brooke. On top of that, Brooke got to paddle her own Duckie for the first time, hike, explore, and create with new friends. So many new activities, so much self confidence built for a little girl who really needs that boost. So thanks for making a little girl’s dream come true this summer!
*Names and photos have been changed in these stories for the privacy of our campers.*