If you’re a parent of a child with special needs, you may have had difficult conversations in the past regarding options for awesome summer camps and/or extra-curricular activities. If you have been searching for an exhilarating, independent, challenging and motivating camp option for your child with disabilities, I think you and your child will be extremely excited to hear about the TIRR Foundation’s Moran Camp Xtreme in Burton, TX. A unique and special quality about Camp Xtreme is that they “believe that every individual, despite physical disability or mobility impairment, has a right to physical recreation, wellness, and participation in sporting activities.” All of their activities reflect this belief and campers will enjoy a week filled with awesome camp memories that every child deserves at least once in a lifetime.  Check out this video for a glimpse into Camp Xtreme.

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What will my child experience at Camp Xtreme? Your child will experience a week filled with summer camp experiences which they may not have had the opportunity to do anywhere else! At Camp Xtreme, the possibilities are endless. Activities such as horseback riding, zip-lining, yoga, archery, SCUBA, basketball, ROPES courses, kayaking, sailing, swimming and more are fully adapted for safety and enjoyment. Your child won’t be told what they cannot do; they will be inspired to do what they can!

What will my child learn at camp? Ms. Taylor, the director of marketing for Camp Xtreme, stated that some of the main skills learned are the social-emotional and life skills of “independence, self-awareness, and resourcefulness” in addition to the physical skills involved in the camping activities and the pride and accomplishment campers will surely feel after participating in them. Campers also grow in social skills, making friends and sharing camaraderie with fellow campers!

When is camp? Summer Camp 2017 is July 9th -14th in Burton. Sea Camp 2017 is October 13th -15th in Galveston.

Who can attend camp? Campers age 8-21 who enjoy new experiences, are able to perform all self-care, tolerate 12 hours of physical activity, and able to propel their wheelchair manually are able to register for camp. (See the website for more specific criteria for campers. If your child doesn’t meet the criteria, TIRR Foundation will also help you find another camp which they will enjoy!)

Feeling unsure about away camp? Parents can rest easy knowing that the ratio of campers to staff is 3:1 (wow!) and that medical staff is available 24/7. We know it can be nerve-wracking to enroll any child in an overnight camp, so we’ve included this parent’s testimonial from the 2016 camp to help in your decision process!

“As a parent of a special needs child, it is so much more difficult to let them have sleepovers etc., as you do not know if the other family is comfortable or capable of taking care of your child.  I think for me it was definitely separation anxiety.  This was the first time ever William was going to be away from home without Mom, Dad, brother, aunt, cousins, or grandparents with him.  He was definitely excited, I was anxious.

So we made the trip from Garland to Burton.  As we pulled into the camp, the grounds were beautiful and peaceful.  We unloaded and were very quickly and pleasantly welcomed to the camp by one of the counselors in a wheelchair.  That made me feel better, knowing someone else would understand the struggles William goes through.  We went inside to get William checked in, and I could see many children with different abilities.  William was definitely among his peers.  Something he doesn’t always get in school.  He already had a smile on his face from ear to ear, I could tell he was a little nervous but more excited. 

Next, we went to the walk the grounds and see the cabins.  I loved that everything was so wheelchair accessible.  I have been to a kids camp with William before and it was definitely not very wheelchair friendly and there were not many events he could participate in.  As we walked into the cabin we were greeted by IK.  This was his cabin counselor.  He definitely put me at ease.  He was kind and welcoming.  He greeted and spoke to William and then answered all of my questions.  The bathrooms were AMAZING!  I wish we had one like that at home!  Another thing that helped alleviate some of my anxiety.  I could tell William was getting more comfortable.  We could see the canoes and pier and William was thrilled that they were going to be fishing!  (He has asked me several times… but that’s not really my thing.)  He also saw the zip line.  This is what he was most excited to do, and what I was most worried about him participating in.  (Good Thing Mom did not stay at camp with him.) 

Now it was time to say goodbye and let him enjoy his camp.  I felt teary, so I quickly had to give him a hug and leave as I did not want him to worry about me. 

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William was at camp for 3 nights.  We picked him up on Sunday morning, and he filled us in on all of the things they did at camp.  We had a couple of hours to drive home, so he had a captive audience.  He explained day by day what he did.  He LOVED the zip line by the way.  He made some new friends and may even see some of them at wheelchair basketball nationals.  I am so glad that Camp Xtreme exists and that we had the opportunity to attend.  It was such a blessing.  The counselors are all knowledgeable and kind.  William cannot wait to get back to camp, he is already planning on attending the summer camp. 

I am so thankful that William had this experience.  I think it helped him to become more independent, and me to trust that he is okay without me. 

Thank you Moran Camp Xtreme and all of the counselors for your time and effort in the lives of these children.  It really does make a difference that they can feel at home at Moran Camp Xtreme, and not be “different.”

-Wendy Hardeman, William Hardeman’s mother

 

By Mary West
Mama of 2 and Teacher/Tutor;
looking forward to a summer filled with swimming and sunshine with my girls!

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