Summertime Family Camps: Time Together, Memories Forever

Mother and sons at a summer family camp.

My family is fun, silly, loving and, well, crazy–but in the best sense possible. Like many families, we have our own challenges and life situations to work through. My big brother has cerebral palsy. You probably wouldn’t know it if you looked at him–he is affected most in his cognitive abilities. Though he is 37, he is unable to understand the concept of money, remember to brush his teeth or know how to drive. However he is able to make people smile, gives the best hugs and cares more about people than anyone else I know.

How did my parents overcome the challenges associated with raising a “special” child? They insisted we spend time together and overcome the challenges together. One of my favorite memories was going camping: our version of camping. We spent summer after summer at different family camps. Some catered to those with disabilities, some did not. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but all helped to bring our family closer together and while away the long summer hours.

There are lots of options for family camps. We happened to end up at Camp Courage here in Minnesota and a little bible camp in Iowa called Village Creek. Although my memories are a little foggy around the edges, I remember things like a giant climbing tree, building a bird house, a lost flashlight in an outhouse, shooting clay pigeons, silly songs about birds in the morning and stomping through a creek filled with creepy creatures. There is one story that my dad loves to retell about a bad salmonella tomato outbreak. I will spare you the details, but it’s those stories that have built my memories of childhood.

The interesting part about these camping experiences is that the camp staff didn’t make a big deal about Brian being different. He did each activity just like my brother and I did. He was normal there. I know my parents love my brother the same as they love us and don’t consider his differences as disabling him – but I wonder if it felt different there – like they had three “normal” children. No matter: it was freeing to be in a place where we could be our crazy family and make memories to last our lifetime.

No matter your family dynamic or how your family overcomes its challenges, this summer, consider checking out family camps in your area. I guarantee you will come away with some great memories of your own.

“Together time” helps get families of all kinds to create lasting, important memories. What does your family like to do together? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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