One Parent's Perspective: What Camp Kaleidoscope Means to Me

A Camp Kaleidoscope dad who wishes to remain anonymous shares his experience of the program after attending for multiple years in a row. You can read more about Camp K here.

We want to send you this email to tell you how important Camp-K has been and continues to be for our family.   I could write a couple paragraphs about how great the food, lodging, staff, programming and activities are.  And all of those things are absolutely wonderful.  However, from our perspective there are so many more important things going on at Camp K.

Over the past seven years we have been at Camp K we quickly realized that the camp is not just important for our son on the autism spectrum but equally as valuable for my wife, our neurotypical son and myself.  All four of us have loved the Camp K experience.

As I think back over the years that we have been to camp K I immediately flash back to that very first year.   Our Autistic son was 4 and we were about 9 months into a diagnosis.  That previous 9 months was absolutely brutal.  Completely blindsided, we started that period with a 20 page pamphlet on Autism and a diagnosis.  Not to mention we also had a 6 month old newborn.   We had to ramp up our knowledge of Autism, treatment plans, learn how to find services, IEPs etc ...  Additionally, that nine months started a period of mourning our preconceived visions of what our family life was going to be like.

He was fearful of visiting family, spent the first half hour of every play date with his only friend hiding in the car, hid under the table at birthday parties, and in general struggled with any new or dynamic activities.   The issues have changed over the past seven years.  But the struggle, the fears, the therapies, the second guessing, and the general feeling like we are running a marathon through quicksand have persisted throughout.

For us Camp-K is a combination of vacation, therapy and normalcy all rolled into one.   That very first visit was probably more important for my wife and I than for our sons.  We could hand our son over to your incredibly competent and understanding staff.  We could do this with no fear that they were going to be calling us because he was hiding under a table, or was spinning in circles to the point of scaring them.  They understood what they were working with and even had him out numbered.   Additionally, we had no fear that other parents were going to be concerned with his behavior.  Instead everyone at camp K understands.

Knowing he was safe, we could talk with other parents and take advantage of the Autism workshops.  Being in that setting, where we felt nurtured, accepted and well understood allowed us to take a deep breath, get off the treadmill, slow down for a couple days, get some education from your incredible experts and talk to some other parents that were going through the same issues.

But camp K is much more than all of this.  Most people don't understand that Autism doesn't affect an individual. It affects the entire family.  And there are very few programs out there to support the Autistic family like Camp K does. You have created something both very unique and extremely valuable.  Camp K is a community that offers a place for families like ours to be accepted for exactly what we are.  At Camp K Autism is normal.  Encircles by all of the extra support and understanding Camp K allows the entire family to have a taste of the normalcy we thought we had completely lost.  Camp fires, hiking, swimming, playing on the slip-n-slide and talent shows, we get to simply have some fun with other families.

The sense of community runs deep at camp K.  It's refreshing to see some of the same families and staff multiple years.  Offering us a chance to tell and hear the crazy stories that only someone caring for a child on the autism spectrum can truly relate to.

Going to Camp K has created an opening within our family to discuss Autism, and how if affects our family and in particular our neurotypical son.  Now that our boys are getting older Camp K has offered both a much needed catalyst and broader perspective for both of our sons from which to view and discuss our own situation.

So thank you Carole and Common Ground Center!  You have truly created something special at Camp K.  The Camp K experience has given our family the experience, courage and desire to engage in other communities that I don't think we would have otherwise attempted.  It's nice to know it will persist after we age-out, and to know that new families will come along and benefit from such a special community.