Most people that I know look forward to Summer. The season promises lazy afternoons and evenings spent outdoors. Cookouts and gardening become weekly activities. Vacations from school mean more relaxed mornings. I for one enjoy the break from nagging my children about homework and getting to bed on time. As my kids have gotten older I have looked less and less forward to Summer. It is difficult for me to give 100% at work knowing that the phone calls from home are inevitable and always bring a surprise that I could not have predicted. The call that stands out in my mind from the Summer of 2010 consisted of Michael stating, “Mom don’t freak out, he’s ok, but Patrick fell off of a roof.”
Up until now, I have been fortunate to have great affordable options for Summer day camps. The St. Paul Salvation Army and West 7th Community Center were a couple of the programs that I took advantage of for my kids. Palace Recreation Center offered a program that we participated in for a couple of years, although, it was not a quality experience. That particular program taught us that “you get what you pay for.” As my children have aged, the options have become fewer. Most local programs are targeted for kids in grades K-6th. Camps designed for older kids are generally more expensive and are only available sporadically throughout the Summer months.
As most of you readers already know, my primary concern relates to having supervision and structure for my son with special needs. I have spent some time over the past week researching options for him. My first but least affordable choice is a camp called Buckskin. It has two 4 week overnight sessions and is designed for children with special needs such as emotional/behavioral disorder, ADHD, Asbergers etc. The website make a point of saying that a significant number of the children that attend are adopted, which is not exactly shocking to me. The price tag for 4 peace filled weeks? $3850.00. That is one expensive staycation!
I have also looked at YMCA camps as they do have options for teenagers. My concern continues to be my son’s ongoing difficulty obeying rules and respecting authority figures. E’s mouth continues to be his biggest enemy. Nine times out of ten it is his language that lands him in the focus room at school. Today he blurted out to his female cousin “you suck d—.” Nice language like this would not be tolerated at a YMCA camp or should be tolerated anywhere else for that matter.
Another option may be Salvation Army camps. In years past they have hosted 2 week long camps at a resort up North. There is not yet any info on the website, so I will need to wait a few more weeks. With budget cuts to social service agencies and charitable giving down, it would not surprise me if these camps no longer existed.
So what is a parent to do. I am unwilling to quit my job to stay home with this child all Summer. We will have PCA hours through 8-1-11. My nephew is currently in the process of getting approved to staff E. I may be able to augment my hours through the summer and coupled with the PCA coverage of 20 hours per week, it could possibly work.
Though E continues to show promise in some aspects of his life, he continues to struggle in ways that prevent him from assimilating fully into the social landscape occupied by his peers. No one knows better than E himself the negative effect that his behavior has on himself and those around him. But we carry on down this road of uncertainty. I remain hopeful that at some point, the change of seasons will be a joy to be anticipated versus something that I dread.