Update from the Minneapolis hospital summer programs:
A couple of weeks ago, we held our first ever Adaptive Water Ski Event. 25 patients joined us for a fun-filled adventure. We really had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be a wonderful and thrilling experience. Kids with all kinds of diagnoses joined us. To get out of your wheelchair and experience the thrill of water skiing was something one patient told me resulted in “the very best time of my life!” Her father drove this patient all the way from Nebraska for a 2-hour event. How awesome is that! The Shockwaves water ski club provided the volunteers and the equipment. They were amazed (and a little shocked) at how athletic our patients are. They have told us next year we will have two boats going — one for adaptive skiing with the chair and another boat dedicated to learning to ski. We did have two patients try the water skiing and, let me tell you, one 10-year old girl tried for over 30 minutes to get up on skis and her perseverance never wavered. At one point the driver yelled out “How is your tank?” she yelled back, “Full, totally full!” She did make it up for a few seconds and you could see the look of pride and accomplishment on her face. This was a day filled with lots of attempts, strong wills and ultimately many successes; kids that started out perhaps fearful and a bit intimidated, but came out conquerors. By many accounts, they had the time of their lives!
Last week, the hospital was full of middle school hormones as we hosted the Camp Achieve for the 9 -13 year olds. We had 24 kids attend, although a few could only be here for some of the days. We had four new campers join us and they were welcomed with open arms and big smiles. The way these campers welcome new kids to the camp is a real pleasure to witness. We started the week off by going to Fort Snelling Park for a day with Wilderness Inquiry. Learning about trees, checking water pollution, and canoeing were all a part of the adventure. Tuesday brought us to Lake Nokomis for Log Rolling. We had some “naturals” in the group as well! In fact so good, we were asked to come to the state fair and be demonstrators for the Log Rolling Club! The kids are very excited. We headed back to the hospital and had lots of activities out in the back yard and on the patio along with the rehab department. Wednesday, we headed to Wisconsin for some trout fishing. The campers caught 295 pounds of trout in 2 hours! While on a break from fishing (before they brought the Rod and Gun club to bankruptcy!), the kids laid on the docks and the bank and tried to catch the trout without a pole! Jordan was the king of “pole-less fishing,” he caught one in his “regular hand” and one with his prosthetic arm! Everyone was so impressed. And how fun to watch the kids cheer him on. Some kids brought home the fish and most parents were excited… maybe a few looks at staff of why??? Then one exchange between a mom and her son Mom: “Did you bring some home?” Son: “No mom, dad is busy this week so I didn’t think I should.” Mom: “Are you kidding me? Who cooked the fish last time??” Son: “Oh sorry mom… next year I promise.” Thursday we headed to Vertical Endeavors, where the kids were really challenged as they headed up many walls or worked on the slack line. Again, having the kids cheer and encourage each other is so great to see.
This brings to a close to the camp programs for the summer. It has been fun, exciting, rewarding for all, maybe a bit hectic, but always well worth it! Numerous kids’ lives were hopefully transformed for the better. Hopefully they learned a lot, gained some confidence, made new friends, and definitely challenged themselves. That is what all the camps and the extra events were designed to do. I know I challenged myself(!) and the kids have once again taught me more about preserving and positive attitudes than they will ever know.
So for 2018, that is a wrap of our camp season. Until next summer!