Dreaming of Camp Arroyo

sleeping-bag-59653_640In October 2014, my daughter Katie attended outdoor education camp at Camp Loma Mar, near Half Moon Bay, California. It was a big deal, and not just because it was my ten-year-old’s first time in a camp setting. Katie has autism, and I feared any number of dreadful things might happen while we were apart. The camp even offers water sports such as kayaking, and despite knowing everything about it from campingfunzone.com and telling her about it, I still am in constant fear. (You can read about Camp Loma Mar Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

My fears, however, were totally unfounded. Katie had a terrific time at Camp Loma Mar. So much so that for months all I heard was, “I want to go to outdoor ed camp. I want to go to outdoor ed camp….”

Unfortunately for Katie, outdoor education camp is a one-shot deal. But there was another camp that she could attend: the summer camp run by the Exceptional Needs Network (ENN) and the Taylor Family Foundation at Camp Arroyo in Livermore. Until then I hadn’t been sure if Katie was ready for a sleepover camp. but after her success at Camp Loma Mar, I was determined to secure her a spot at Camp Arroyo.

It is not easy to obtain a spot at ENN’s coveted summer camp for disabled kids. Demand completely outstrips supply, with special needs parents coming from all over the San Francisco Bay Area for one of 70 spots. Nevertheless, I was determined to get Katie in and give her another camp experience to help build on her growing independence. After a great deal of digging, combined with a little luck, I learned that if I truly wanted a spot in one of the two summer sessions, I would need to spend most of the night in front of the Livermore Library to ensure that I was close enough to the front of the line. That was an adventure in and of itself, but at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning last spring, I secured Katie a spot.

Camp ArroyoFor four months Katie has been patiently waiting for summer camp. I’m not anxious this time, and that is a welcome relief. Both Katie and I have grown since Camp Loma Mar.

Next week Katie will spend three glorious days (Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning) at Camp Arroyo. She will ride horses, splash in the pool, sing round a campfire, and gaze at the stars. Meanwhile I will be doing whatever I damn well please. A day trip to Pescadero for green chili soup and a walk along the beach is planned. Perhaps a movie. Beyond that, I have no idea. Whatever strikes my fancy.

I suspect both Katie and I will have a blast next week, each in her own way, in her own space. And that’s a really, really good thing.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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