Dad was 40 when he attended his first Easter Seals Camp. That was in the late 1960s, but I will never forget when we picked him up at the end of a week at camp. He was grinning ear-to-ear. Behind the grin was an excitement and energy he rarely displayed after being diagnosed with MS.
He talked non-stop on the trip home. “I had my own counselor all day long. We even had a dance, and I wheeled the night away.” His children were most impressed by the announcement that he went swimming daily. He patiently answered our questions about what he wore (swimming trunks) how he got into the pool (someone wheeled him down a ramp) and how it felt to swim for the first time in over a decade. His answer to that question still brings me to tears.
“In the water, it didn’t matter that my legs don’t work. I could paddle with my hands and move around like everyone else. It was like I could still walk.”
A week at camp was more than a week of fun for Dad. It was a week of freedom. Not just freedom of movement. Freedom from stares as he wheeled around. Freedom from pity or condescension. A freedom he cherished for the rest of his life.
June 10–12, Hidden Acres is hosting its first Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC) for 30 families of kids with special needs. It’s designed to minister not only to kids, but also to their families. During the day, each child with special needs will be accompanied by a one-on-one volunteer to meals, recreational activities, crafts, and programs. Their siblings will be treated to their own adventures. Moms will enjoy a spa experience Saturday afternoon while dads participate in a golf outing and a pool tournament. Saturday evening, the parents will enjoy a formal dinner and live jazz. Throughout the weekend, the hope of the gospel will be shared in word and deed.
The planning committee wants the weekend to be free of charge to families and volunteers, which means $15,000 needs to be raised. To reach that goal, your help is needed. The camp costs approximately $385 per family and a volunteer to accompany their child. This brochure explains bow to sponsor a family or make a donation.
As much as dollars, WMFC needs people with medical experience (like doctors, nurses, and EMTs), as well as adults with special needs experience (like therapists, teachers, and para-professionals) to serve as one-on-one volunteers to kids. Other people are needed to help with crafts, activities, and to serve as go-fers. All volunteers will receive training during the day on Friday before the camp begins. Volunteer applications can be accessed here.
Long ago, Paul commanded believers in Italy to bear the weaknesses of those without strength. WMFC provides an opportunity for people with strong bodies, hearts, and faith to bear the weaknesses of others by sharing the compassion of Christ in practical and life-changing ways. I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend of June 10–12. Can you?