Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Five years ago we found the most awesome camp for Angela. Wisconsin Easter Seals Camp Wawbeek!! 

Camp Wawbeek has several different sessions throughout the summer, for a wide variety of ages and special needs. It is staffed 1:2, and then each 3 person team is part of a larger group of around 8 campers and four counselors. If your child isn't really ready for a "camp" experience, they also have a respite camp for those with more challenging behavior or medical needs. Respite camp has a 1:1 staff to camper ratio. It is open one weekend a month year round. The very first time Angela went to camp Wawbeek, she went for a respite weekend so they could get an idea which camp would be a better placement for her. At the time her behavior was really challenging. Although she required 1:1 staffing, the director felt Angela would like the regular camp better because she's a very capable young lady. So the staffed for her at a 1:1 ratio but had her attend the regular camp. I was really pleased they were able to see past the behavior and to the real Angela. They made adjustments to what they normally do and made accommodations to find the best fit for her. Now, years later, Angela's behavior is only rarely a problem and she attends the regular camp with the same camper.

Angela has been anticipating camp for weeks. We've been going over the calendar each day so she's gotten a daily reminder of when it's coming. Those who know Angela know how she gets a bit obsessed about what's coming up on the schedule. LOL Anyway, at 8:00 on the Saturday night before camp I decided I should get the rest of the camp forms filled out for Monday's drop off. When I opened the PDF's to print them I realized I had a problem. Drop off was the NEXT DAY! OMG!!

Panic ensued. I had planned on spending the next day getting laundry caught up so I'd have 12 days of clothes to pack for her. Instead I thanked God for 24 hour shopping at Walmart. Angela was due for some new summer clothes anyway, I just hadn't planned on it being that day.

I have gotten good at this packing for camp thing. I try to pack so Angela is as independent as possible while at camp. The less help she needs the better it is for her.

This is how I do it: Each 1 gallon bag below contains a full outfit: shorts, shirt, socks, underwear, bra. All Angela has to do is open a bag and put on everything that is in the bag. But this is in Wisconsin, and just like where we live in Minnesota, several seasons could happen within the same day, not to mention cool mornings and evenings.  I pack several pairs of jeans and sweatshirts to deal with that.

Here is all of Angela's camp stuff. I found a new product by Suave. It is a 3-in-1 shampoo/conditioner/body wash. The one I found came in a pump bottle, which is perfect for Angela who has trouble managing screw or flip-top bottles.

If I only stop once it is a 3 1/2 hour drive to camp in the Wisconsin Dells. The entire drive is full of great anticipation on Angela's part! Finally we reach the entrance into the Wawbeek camp forest!

Angela always tells me, "Just drop me off. Please?" Because she just wants to get on with camp already! LOL Every year I have to remind her there is a whole check-in process that we are required to go through, dropping off meds with the nurse, getting her things unpacked, etc.

And then....then I get in my car and drive home. Alone. Three and a half hours all to myself! We spend many days keeping the other boys busy, and going over the calendar so they know when Angela is coming home. They really miss her a lot, but before we know it, it's time to go back to get her!

She is always SO EXCITED TO SEE ME!!! She nearly knocks me over as she comes barreling toward me for a hug. This time Axel came along and he got the same warm welcome.

Angela with one of her camper friends.

And her camp counselors.

Bye camp Wawbeek! See you next year!

I haven't quite figured out how we will do it, but we're hoping to send all four kids to camp together next year. I know three for sure will love it. We'll see about the 4th. LOL


Stephanie said...

Wow! That sounds like an awesome camp. Do any of the counselors know sign language? Are you ever nervous about her being away? I know I would be anxious myself, especially the first time. I hope Owen will have an experience like that someday.

Leah S. said...

Stephanie, the first year Angela went for a whole week I was a wreck. This camp was longer than previous years. Yes, there were times I worried, like "Omg, what if their canoe flips over in the lake? Will she be ok?" and stuff like that, but I quickly get distracted by other things. LOL All the counselors are from Americorp, and come from all over the world! (they try to give Angela a counselor who doesn't have a strong accept because she has a hard enough time with her hearing loss.) However, on the camp registration forms we can specify if a camper needs ASL. So, that is a good question which I will be asking!