You can read Patrick’s account of Hand Camp here , because he is obviously doing a better job at keeping up with this whole blog thing!
Brenden first went to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children for his hand when he was about 3 months old. We immediately became involved in the support group the hospital offers called Hands Down. From our first visit to the hospital we’ve been hearing about Hand Camp and how we had to go. At every Hands Down meeting someone would tell us how wonderful Hand Camp was and how we had to go. But the kids can’t go until they are 4. Brenden’s 4th birthday came two weeks after Hand Camp last year. So this is the first year we could go. So we’ve been waiting for this for nearly 5 years. Because of this, I think my expectations were pretty high. And because of that, I was ever so slightly disappointed. But only slightly.
We had a really great weekend. One of the best parts of it was that it was an extremely rare weekend were there were no errands to run, no where we had to be, no responsibilities (obviously we still had to take care of the kids, but you get the idea). We got to spend all weekend in nature away from everything with lots of other families facing similar things. We arrived Friday in time for dinner and songs around the “camp fire.” A burn ban meant that our camp fire was actually just a lantern, but oh well. It was late when we got the kids back to the cabin. I’ll mention here that while we knew the cabin was going to be shared by two families, we didn’t known it was all in one room. I was nervous about getting the kids to sleep in that type of environment, plus, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of sleeping in the same room as stranger. Plus, I forgot to take pillows! But it all worked out fine. The kids were up a bit later then normal.
The next day started with breakfast, group photo and then our chosen activities. We’d chosen to do a nature walk, weird science, and sports for the first day. There were also a couple of break out sessions for the parents to attend while the kids played in groups broken out by age. I really enjoyed the parent session we went to. It was broken out by diagnosis, so all the parents in our session had kids with symbrachydactyly. We all shared stories and fears and advice. Probably one of my favorite parts. We had also scheduled in some down time in the cabin and by the end of the sporting event toward the end of the day, we were all ready for that down time. So we went and slept and made the choice not to go to the next breakout session. It was a chance for the parents to ask questions of the teens, which thanks to being a part of Hands Down, we’d already done in meetings a couple of times. So we slept instead and woke up in time to go to the basketball carnival. The kids got their faces painted (puppies of course) , danced, ate cotton candy and snow cones, and played in a big sand pit.
The next day we had my second favorite part which was a cooking class were the kids did all the cooking. We made squid dogs (hot dogs with spaghetti noodles stuck through it) astronaut food (cool whip, crushed graham crackers, and chocolate chips), lemonade, and a layered bean dip. Very fun for the kids to get to do all of that with minimum help. We also had another breakout session where the parents got to ask questions of parents of the teens who were serving as counselors.
It always makes me happy to be around the other families and all those kids happily oblivious to their different hands. And as we pulled out of camp on Sunday, Brenden was already asking if he could go back next year. So when I say I was slightly disappointed, it doesn’t mean much. Only that I think I thought it was going to be much more emotional than it was. But it was all pretty great.