A Camp For All
One Camper’s “Come As You Are” Experience
The fate of a four-year tradition hinged on the success of just twelve days of summer. If ten-year-old Jack didn’t have a good first experience with Overnight Camp, his mother Meghan Peterson worried their yearly trips to Frost Valley for Summer Family Camp might come to an end.
“About a month before we were set to send Jack to camp my husband John asked me, ‘Meghan, are you prepared if he comes home early from camp, he might not want to go back as a family either?’ and it was very nerve wracking,” she recalls. However, Meghan was determined to do everything in her power to prepare Jack for camp.
“Jack’s sensory processing difficulties can sometimes lead to anxiety and his anxiety can lead to meltdown behavior if not handled properly. I didn’t want it to affect either him or the counselors,” explains Meghan.
Having a long and beloved history with Frost Valley as a former camper and counselor herself, Meghan wanted her son to get the most out of his camp experience. “If there is anything I can give Jack in life to expand his horizons and show him options that he has in life, or for him to discover what his talents are then I just want to give him that,” Meghan tenderly reveals.
Before Jack’s arrival, Meghan had several conversations with camp staff. “She did a great job coaching us and her knowledge of Frost Valley was so helpful,” says Nick Lomauro, Director of Camp Wawayanda (the younger half of camp). “She was able to reach out and express the needs and strengths of her son and that helped me figure out which counselor would be a great match for him.”
The big day finally arrived and with some trepidation, Meghan and her husband checked Jack in for Session One. Later that night, nagging questions like “Did he get enough to eat?” and “Did he make any friends yet?” kept her awake so she emailed Nick. To her pleasant surprise, Nick responded promptly the next morning and set her mind at ease. Several times throughout the session she was able to reach out whenever she had questions, and was delighted to receive not just straight-to-the-point answers, but real insights into what Jack’s life at camp was like.
Nick’s emails included anecdotes like, “I just bumped into Jack as I was making my rounds around camp. He and his buddy, Bharat were brainstorming different ways to rescue their bunkmate’s Frisbee that was stuck about 30 feet up in a tree. They were giggling about the different strategies.”
Meghan also felt great relief seeing photos of Jack on SmugMug (a password protected site for parents). While looking through photos one day she saw photos of her son’s village playing Geronimo. For a moment she panicked, knowing he wouldn’t like certain aspects of the game like being touched with a pool noodle, but as she continued to look through the photo album she saw photos of Jack happily playing nearby on the jungle gym with a few other campers.
“Jack is a super easy-going kid,” Nick describes. “He just needed a little bit of extra space and time to recharge and some of the structured activities didn’t work for him and that’s okay because we just want kids to be themselves at camp.”
“Since returning from camp I’ve noticed that he’s much more patient with his little brother,” Meghan describes. “I think it was probably from being around campers of all different ages at camp and also seeing the staff members who are college-age acting in a calm and respectful way. I think it rubbed off on him and it shows in how he interacts with his younger brother. It’s also been a much easier process having him do his basic chores like putting his clothes in the hamper, brushing his teeth, and getting ready for bed at night.
“The Jack that came home to us after twelve days at Frost Valley was calm, content, and at peace with himself,” she continued. “At Frost Valley, Jack was able to just be Jack, and that was exactly what he needed.”
According to the CDC, even before the coronavirus struck, anxiety and depression were on the rise in this generation of children. With the isolation and upheaval caused by the pandemic, it has become an even larger issue for our children, our families, and our communities. Frost Valley has always provided an environment where children can be themselves, and in recent years we have received funding for mental health coaches to support our campers.
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Frost Valley YMCA
Frost Valley YMCA is a 5,500-acre, year-round camp - There's something for everyone here in the Valley. From group and family retreats to overnight camps to horse camps to teambuilding, we've got you covered. School groups love taking a three-night field trip to explore the natural world and learn about the environment and their classmates. Family weekends are the perfect getaway for the young and the young at heart. Teambuilding retreats afford corporate, collegiate, religious, and other groups the opportunity to challenge themselves and effectively work toward common goals. In the summertime we're where kids and teens gain independence, explore the world, and make lifelong friends through various camps such as traditional sleepaway camp, farm camp, horse camp, adventure trips, survival camp, and day camp. Call (845)985-2291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more today!
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