MDA Summer Camp 2011

CRAZY! 

That is what my life has been for the past two weeks.  I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I have been a bit MIA around this place.  My kids had their last day of school two weeks ago and we have been going non stop since then.  I thought summer was supposed to bring relaxed schedules and lazy days?!

concrete   concrete 1

We had scheduled to have our driveway torn out and have a new cement pad on the side of our house along with a new driveway poured over 6 weeks ago.  But due to the large amount of rain this spring it was delayed.  So, they finally were able to come at one of the most inconvenient times for us…of course!  But we went ahead with it because we had already been waiting for so long. 

MDA 2011 9a MDA 2011 2a MDA 2011 3a

They came the day before I was getting ready to head off to MDA Summer Camp.  They ripped everything up and came back the next day to begin the prep and pour the new cement.  We have a broken culinary tap water faucet that comes off the outside of our house in the front yard.  We noticed it a couple of years after moving in and never had the funds to get it fixed.  Since then we have never really had the need to use it, so we just removed the handle to the faucet and didn’t worry about it.  Well, the concrete guy grabbed a wrench and hooked up his garden hose and turned the faucet on to spray off the dust and dirt from our sidewalks.

MDA 2011 6a MDA 2011 7a MDA 2011 8a

I was in the house washing some laundry while simultaneously packing for my Summer Camp so I did not notice or hear the water running.   I happened to go down into the basement to grab my suitcase and water was pouring into our playroom from the light fixture.  The carpet was soaked and our foosball table was filled with water!!  AHHHH!  I knew immediately what the problem was and ran outside and grabbed the guys wrench which was sitting by the faucet, and turned it off. 

MDA 2011 11a MDA 2011 12a MDA 2011 1a

I spent the next couple of hours cleaning up the water and drying out the carpet.  And…we had just repainted that playroom on Memorial Day!  Just what I needed when I was trying to pack and get the house clean for my Mother-in-law who was coming to stay with my kids while I was at camp.  And…my husband was on his way home from a business trip.  Why does stuff like that always happen when he is out of town?  Anyways, everything ended up turning out okay for the most part.  The carpet dried out nicely and the paint on the walls is undamaged except for a small area under the window that is hidden by the window blinds.  The ceiling has an area that may need to be patched and repainted.  So all in all we were really lucky.  We are in discussions with the concrete company for the damages.  But our driveway and cement pad turned out great and we will finally be able to drive on it again tomorrow!

MDA 2011 14a MDA 2011 5a MDA 2011 8a

We also got the damage to my husband’s fender bender fixed and FINALLY got most of our plants planted!  We had so much yard work and gardening to do in these last couple of weeks because it was finally safe enough to plant with all the cold weather we had been having.  Normally we have everything ready for summer before Memorial Day. 

MDA 2011 15a MDA 2011 16a MDA 2011 17a

Then, I spent 5 days at the Muscular Dystrophy Summer Camp.  I first learned about this camp from my college roommate Heather my freshman year.  She talked me into volunteering for the camp in 1992.  I have been hooked ever since.  I started out as a volunteer and was paired with a 10 year old boy with Muscular Dystrophy.  I was with him all day for 5 days and we stayed up in Park City, Utah in a hotel with the entire camp.  He was such a sweet boy and we had so much fun hanging out and playing with everyone else.  I was his arms and legs and helped him with everything that we did.  He was still able to walk and was not in a wheel chair yet but was fairly weak and needed help dressing and walking long distances.  He also needed some help eating and engaging in some physical activities.  MDA camp is a big party filled with swimming, arts and crafts, relay races, games, dances, karaoke, talent night, parties, magic shows, and all sorts of fun.  It is a week that the kids can be with other kids who have the same challenges and struggles as everyone else.  It is their week to be “normal” and to shine.  It also allows their parents to get a little break from the everyday challenges of raising and taking care of a child with disabilities.

MDA 2011 10a MDA 2011 7a Mike MDA 3

The next year I was paired with an 18 year old girl in a wheel chair.  We had so much fun getting to know one another.  We became great friends and found out that despite her challenges, that we really had a lot in common with one another.  We remain good friends still to this day.  Then the next year (1994) I was asked to be an assistant group leader and be in charge of a group of kids with muscular dystrophy and their volunteers.   The following year I was then a group leader and have been in that position ever since.  We now have 3 group leaders for six groups.  Each group contains 35-40 kids (the campers and their volunteers).  We are responsible for getting them where they need to be when they need to be there.  We run all the activities and serve most of the meals and keep the kids safe by enforcing the rules and making sure they are having a good time.  We also take turns doing room checks throughout the night to help turn the kids in bed who can’t make these adjustments on their own.  It is a lot of hard work, but it is so rewarding and a lot of fun.  We also get everyone on and off the buses as we go on various activities to the movies, bowling and etc.  I love the relationships I have made and look forward to seeing the kids each year and seeing the returning volunteers and the new volunteers each year.  I have missed about four years due to pregnancy and nursing babies.  But it has been something that has given me a deep compassion for kids with disabilities.  I also have made some amazing friends, many of which have been volunteering with MDA as leaders and medical personnel for close to 20 years. 

MDA 2011 18a MDA 2011 19 MDA 2011 4a

Every year I come home exhausted, but so happy and grateful for the new relationships I have developed and old ones I have strengthened.  It is true what they say about service, I gain so much more out of it than I give.  I am also grateful that I have a husband who is so supportive of me and my choice to serve this way.  He has actually been able to come and be a group leader with me twice several years ago.  So he “gets” it and is also good friends with many of the people there.  I also am so lucky to have a Mother-In-Law who LOVES to come and watch my kids.  She lives out of state and is so great to drive out here to take care of the kids and my husband while I am at camp.  But most importantly, I love that my kids get to see me serving others in this way.  They love to come to camp when they can and get to know the kids as well.  They look forward to the day when they turn 16 and can come and be one of these kids volunteers.  In 2014, my oldest son will be able to go with me.  We are both looking forward to it.

MDA group 2011a

(Our group—Kung Fu Pandas)

Anyways, I just thought I would share a little more with you about what I have been up to so far this summer!  What about you?  Do you have something that you do that you are passionate about?  I would love to hear about it!


Amy Huntley is the owner/author of The Idea Room. A mother of five, who enjoys sharing her love of all things creative in hopes of inspiring other women and families. Connect with her on Google+, or read more of her posts.

Comments

  1. 1

    This post made me tear up. What an amazing service you’re doing and what a treasure you are to those kids and counselors. And what a super great reason to be away and offline for a while. :) On another note, I am so glad you didn’t sustain more water damage and that you have a new driveway you can finally drive on! Yay!

    • 2

      Thanks Emily! It is always a good week and I feel so renewed and redirected towards things that really matter when I am finished. The driveway is nice ;)

  2. 3
    Suzanne says:

    Welcome home. I hope you catch your breath and enjoy settling into your summer groove.

  3. 5

    What an amazing example you are setting for your kids. You should be very proud of yourself. And YAY about the minimal water damage and new driveway!

    • 6

      Thanks Brandy! I really do enjoy it and feel like I get more out of it than I could possibly give to those sweet kids with muscular dystrophy. They truly bless me and my families lives.

  4. 7

    What a wonderful experience! I’m so happy your basement didn’t sustain more damage! What a mess. Hope the rest of your summer is just as fun, but maybe not so “eventful” as the first week. ;)
    xoxo,
    Amy

    • 8

      Haha! Me too! Crazy first week for sure. Thanks so much for always leaving such sweet comments! Hope you are doing well and enjoying your summer vacation too!

  5. 9

    That is so awesome that you took part in this worthy cause. What a great way to give back and help these children. What a blast they must have had and what a rewarding job that must have been for you. I have a child with CP and he has had to overcome a lot of disabilities, but it is so refreshing to see people like yourself who add joy to these childrens lives with special needs. LOVE the pics!! God bless you!

    • 10

      Liz, thanks for your sweet comments. And bless you for caring for your child daily! I can only imagine the daily service you render for your sweet child. They are gifts!

  6. 11

    Amy, you are amazing. Seriously amazing. I feel honored to even know you! Thank you for sharing this part of you with us. I bet those kids just love you!!!

  7. 13

    My eyes are wet….I loved reading about this…I knew you did it, but still, it really is great to serve in this unique way and how fun that your kids can join you when they are 16!!! And I might add that your photography is AMAZING!!!! Seriously, lovin’ it!

    • 14

      Awww thanks Kristen! I really appreciate it. I am glad you like the pictures. I just might have learned a thing or two from your great posts and class this last little while. I have sure been practicing your techniques!!

  8. 15

    What an amazing/rewarding experience! Thanks for sharing it with us. I love seeing bits and pieces of my favorite bloggers “real life.” :) All the pictures you took are so fun.

  9. 17

    I think that is so neat that you do this every year. Thanks for being a good example to all of us, Amy! Most importantly, your kids. :)

  10. 19

    Wow! This post brings back so many great memories-I was a MD camp counselor in Texas for 4 summers. I can look back to my first year as a counselor @ 15 years old and recognize it as one of those watershed moments of my life. That is so great that you were able to continue for all of these years!

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