Monday, August 4, 2008

Visiting Sleep-away camp!

Yikes! We took Sammy to visit Camp Ramah (New England - Palmer) on Sunday. This is one of the many Jewish summer camps in the area, and part of a national organization of camps sponsored by the Conservative movement.

We are going to look at another camp on Wednesday (Yavneh). I'm only focusing on these two because I think they would be best for Sam. I'll describe Ramah now, Yavneh after I learn more.

We know quite a few friends at Ramah; our rabbi has been on staff for many years and sits on the Board of Directors; there are several shul-kids both attending and now working as counselors; my dear friend E works in the office there.

Ramah also has two "extra" programs: The Tikvah Program is a full Special Needs program, a show-piece in the country. The kids in Tikvah have their own programming but are mixed in within the rest of the camp, especially at meals and services. The Inclusion Program is what I am interested in for Sam: the kids in Inclusion have the same programming as the rest of the camp, but there are extra counselors for each group, and more attention paid to the particular needs.

I spoke briefly (during a very LOUD lunch) with the director of the Inclusion program, and I will be speaking with him more if we think this is really the camp for Sam. Basically, there is no such thing as "typical" in the Inclusion program, because each kid has something that makes him/her need that extra attention. (For example, there are two kids with DS in Inclusion this summer; I have no doubt Sofia will end up there when she's old enough!).

When we got to camp, we had some free time to explore. David took the boys to climb the rock wall while I followed Sofia around (first she jumped on the trapoline, then she latched on to the "Gan" (staff's kids who are too young to be campers) and we followed them to their playground. We also ran into another friend from the day-school.

Eventually, however, David called me to say "Sam's freaking out." Sigh. It was a lot of stimulation for him to take in, and he was starting to get squirrelly.

I took over with Sam while David took the little ones off for a while. Sam calmed down a bit, and I assured him that no way would I send him to sleep-away camp until HE thought he was ready. He did calm down, and at that point said "I know. I'm actually ok, Mom."

He had his arms wrapped tight around him, biting his fingers the entire time, but he was bright-eyed and took it all in. We explored the Art building on our own, and then the tour started.

We'd met the Assistant Director, a young rabbi, a few months ago when he did a presentation at our shul. Micah had latched on to him then, and repeated that now. I warned Micah to be good (Rabbi E said "I'll try to be good, too!"). For the most part, he behaved. We had to remind him about "public questions vs. private comments" a few times during the tour.

For the most part, Sam maintained his wrapped-arms position. But when we got to the Alpine Climbing Center, there was a huge change. He dropped his arms, puffed out his chest, and seemed to grow about 3 inches taller. "I can do that!" I think that section alone sold Sammy on the camp!

Unfortunately, when we got to the lunch-room, Sam completely shut down. 500 kids, singing and shouting, was a wee bit too much for him. David managed to get him over to the salad bar, and when he came back he was a little bit better.

So all-in-all, Sam liked camp. Of course he talked about it the whole way home. We had to assure him that he wasn't expected to remember all the rules NOW.

It should be interesting on Wednesday. I THINK we know people at the other camp, but I'm not sure who. And David isn't coming, so I'll have to manage all 3 kids alone.

Endocrinology CheckUp

Sofia had her Endo checkup today. Doc was very pleased with how she's doing. My darling daughter has actually made it onto the "typical" height and weight charts. (Height is about 2% - 35", and Weight is 8% - 12.5 kg/27.5 lb). We did a blood test, and it requred three of us to hold my little strong-lady still. She's VERY strong! After the blood test, I took her to the cafeteria for lunch, and she refused to lift that arm; she kept yelling "hot" when I tried (I think she meant "hurt").

Micah and Mommy Time

Since Micah is not in camp this week, I got to bike all 3 kids up to Sam's summer-school this morning. Micah refuses to ride Sam's old bike and insists on sticking to his bike, which is too small and has a bald tire on the back. Sofia managed to pull off her helmet three times on the way home, prompting Micah to complain "I wish Sofia wasn't here. We never get any Mommy and Micah time any more."

So tomorrow, since both Sam and Sofia have school, I'll have to do something special for Micah and Mommy time. Dunno what!