This is about something altogether different.
This is about one of the best holidays of my life.
This is about being part of something totally special.
This is about meeting lovely people at the right time in the same unique circumstances.
This is about a little boy, born a bit different, flourishing and celebrating that.
This is about finding a place to belong.
This is about letting go of your fears for the future, listening to wiser, more experienced heads and beginning to look forward.
This is about Camp Amazing (or Camp Amazion as mispronounced by my five year old and a name that has kind of stuck).
Sometimes in life you find yourself in situations and think how did I end up here? Or less politely WTF is going on! Never did I think when I embarked on my first solo holiday to Spain, fresh from A-levels, that decades later my holiday destination would be a campsite for children with complex health needs.
Nor did I think that this would be the first holiday for a long time that I actually counted down the days to. I just couldn't blinkin' wait. And it didn't disappoint.
I am not quite sure. After all, I was actually about to make a life already complex, more complicated for a few days by having to walk for five minutes to go to the toilet (even in the night) and having to wash my dishes under a cold tap. I was sleeping in a field by some woods (google horror films, camping and think shit not good). It rained. Hard. Airbeds do not stay up. It was Baltic-style freezing at night. And no matter how anal you are about your bedroom zips, there will be twenty daddy long legs doing their electric dance above your head.
Yet it was ace. And Gabe loved it. All our children did.
Instead he was just Gabe.
The genius that is Claire Chissell, the amazing behind Camp Amazing, set up this event (which is in its inaugural year), as she knew that camping was a form of holiday feared and shunned by families of children with additional needs. Yet it is actually the perfect sensory environment for these unique children of all ages. Add to that the menu of superb activities, good company and plenty of belly laughs, and the event was pretty awesome.
For our other two children to see that they are not the only ones with a special sibling was a wonderful thing. They asked many questions and wanted to know which of the older children Gabe was most like. Trying in their own way to make sense of the new world we now live in. Preparing themselves for the journey ahead. A life that is different from that of their school friends.
For us as a family it was a mammoth step forward. Our denial stage is long behind us. Previous months have seen us dipping our toes tentatively into this world of special needs. Yet Camp Amazing put us right at its core. And made us realise it is not a bad place to be. Not a bad place at all.
In fact, largely, it is quite amazing.
|Gabe says: "Leave me in peace, Mum. I am chilling at my camp."|
For more information go to www.camp-amazing.moonfruit.com
Two new lovely friends have written blog posts about their experience of camp, which can be viewed at OneOffOrdinary and AreyouKiddingney