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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cainan's Adventures at Camp Korey

It’s long overdue—I can’t believe Cainan went to camp almost a month ago—but here’s the run down on Camp Korey and how “awesome, awesome, awesome!” it was.

If you you’re a Facebook friend, then you got a sneak peak of some of the great things Cainan experienced.  Like, when we pulled into the parking lot and a bunch of the staff, dressed in costumes, ran up to the car and made a hand tunnel for Cainan to walk through as they sang and welcomed him to camp.  That was an auspicious start!

Then we headed up the hill for registration and check in.  We met his counselors, Adam and Mike. We checked in the with nurse and went over his medication, his diet and any other medical/safety concerns.   
From there we went to the craft room where Cainan decorated a “warm and fuzzy” bag.  This is a bag where campers and counselors leave positive notes for each of the campers, which they take home at the end of the week.  This was also where I was able to put the four letters I had written to him for each day at camp.  I will be doing another complete post on Cainan’s warm & fuzzy bag (it was AMAZING!).  He also decorated his own water bottle.

Once that was all done, we went out on the lawn and met several therapy dogs that were there for a visit, along with a therapy llama (yes, I said llama).  He was trained to give kisses and Cainan got one right on the mouth! 

We were welcomed to stay as long as we wanted but Cainan was already asking when I was going to leave.  I knew he was going to have a fantastic time but it was truly one of the hardest things I’ve had to do—this was his first time away from me EVER (besides spending the nights at grandmas’ houses) and it was going to be for a whole week!! 
  My last views of him were with huge smiles as he was visiting and meeting new campers who were arriving.

By Wednesday, I was crawling out of my skin, wondering how he was doing.  I figured he was having a blast, but I contemplated the worst, too (I couldn’t help it).  I was just looking up the number to call the camp and check in (I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk to him directly) and see how he was doing when I noticed I had a message.  It was the camp director leaving me a very nice message about how fantastic a time Cainan was having and how great he was doing.  What a relief!

On Friday, I’m not ashamed to say I was the first parent there to pick up their kid.  I found Cainan in the “Hippodrome” having breakfast.  He was not ready to leave.  
He was covered in black and red face paint and had blue painted nails.  

 We spent 20 minutes saying good-bye to campers and counselors alike and checking him out.  It was bittersweet to see him leaving—he obviously had a good time and would have gladly stayed longer but my heart was exploding with joy to have him back in my arms again.

As we drove away, I turned on the video recorder on the iPad and told him to start telling me all about it…

He was excited to tell me his experiences but he also kept wandering off subject (which is totally not like him) and I realized just how exhausted he was.  He passed out after about 30 minutes of talking and slept for a large part of our drive home. 

 Over the course of the drive and the ensuing weeks, I’ve heard a lot about his counselors and friends at camp.  He told me about swimming and pretending to be apples bobbing in a tub with a couple of the counselors.  He rode horses.

 He climbed a rock wall—twice!  

 He went to a tea in Tarzan’s cottage (apparently, this is where the blue nail polish came into play).  He got to dress up like an animal—a tiger (hence the red and black face paint).  He visited a greenhouse where he got to try edible flowers and herbs from the gardener named Rosie.   

He had an epic food fight with green oatmeal, chocolate syrup, ketchup, mustard and spaghetti. 

 There was a camp dance and a camp talent show where he got up on stage by himself and performed a Wiggles song.  He finished each night off in his cabin with his counselors and two cabinmates doing “cabin talk” and sharing what their favorite things about the day were.  

According to several of the counselors he went around the camp all week telling everyone he was “the happiest camper” and everyone agreed.  I was so impressed with how awesome the staff was.  They were supportive and excited.  So many people were telling Cainan goodbye as we left and after I read all the notes in his warm and fuzzy bag, I saw that each of them had some kind of personal moment with him during the week.  They were all asking if he would be coming back next summer and, of course, he immediately looked at me and asked if he was, as well.  If there’s any way possible, he will be going back each and every summer, as long as he wants.

Did I mention this camp is totally free?  Camp Korey is a Newman’s Foundation Serious Fun Camp.  They are supported by donations and grants—you can help support them by letting their contributors know how great their contributions are and by supporting those businesses, like: Newman’s Own, Hasbro, Microsoft, Key Bank, Clif Bar and Glassy Baby to name a few.  This summer they had seven sessions, each are disability specific, but if your child doesn’t experience one of those disabilities, that doesn’t eliminate them from attending—they found a spot for Cainan in the cranio-facial differences camp and were able to accommodate ALL of his needs.  

Camp Korey’s focus is on giving a great, traditional camp experience to every kid, age 7-16.  They are staffed with doctors and nurses to oversee the health of each camper.  The camper to counselor ratio is 2:1 unless it’s determined your child needs 1:1.  They offer airline travel for free to campers who live within 1,000 miles of the camp.   

They focus on the strengths and abilities of each of the kids there and encourage them to try things, they may never have dreamed of doing—like a fully accessible challenge course, complete with a zip-line!  Cainan was looking forward to that more than anything but we found out after we arrived that campers have to be 13 to try to challenge course.  

I can’t say enough good things about the camp.  I can’t say a single negative thing—we didn’t experience anything negative.  We are already making plans for Cainan to attend next summer.  And when people ask him how camp was, he smiles and says, “Awesome, awesome, awesome!”


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. I am Dawn Watson's friend and was considering sending my child this year but chickened out. I will have to be brave next year so my child can build a memory that is this fun!

    1. I'm so glad we could share our experience. It is a great place :-)