Seeing God’s perfect child
My family of four has attended regular family camp sessions before, but we thought it would be neat to attend a camp that was designed around the needs of guests like our 10-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. So we decided to attend 100 Elk in October with Rainbow Valley Resources Network, a wonderful organization that supports Christian Scientists with the label of intellectual disabilities, and their families.
The whole group felt like instant family. As we got to know individual campers — many of whom are adults, living in group settings, and families, we just felt so much love! Several 100 Elk staff members told me this was their favorite session of the year.
The program had different components. There were fun camp activities, such as the ropes course, horseback riding, art in the lodge, cooking lessons, church, and shopping in town, to name a few. But the most compelling part for me was just being with other Christian Science families who are living, praying, and supporting along the same lines that we are. Where as specialists in disability will help families to merely cope, it meant the world to be with other spiritual thinkers who, like us, are devoted to seeing past labels and seeing God’s beautifully perfect child. It was so encouraging to hear of all the healing that is going on!
The special thing about the 100 Elk session was its inclusiveness and its flexibility. Staffers were going the extra mile to accommodate special requests (in our case, preparing different food for my daughter). Anywhere else, that would have been too much to ask. But here, meeting our needs seemed to be all part of the plan.
Campers were encouraged to “enlarge their zone of comfort,” as we found with our daughter, Sabine. We wanted to take a family hike at Twin Lakes, so a staffer accompanied us. Being late October, the trail was windy and icy in spots. Hiking is not on Sabine’s list of favorite activities, and after 20 feet, she usually ends up riding piggyback. After we were tired from that, 100 Elk staffer Jared took her hand and encouraged her as she hiked on her own. They walked off ahead of us for awhile. Pretty soon, Sabine was calling the shots — letting us know she was ready for a rest, and then ready to resume. A young trip leader emerged. Before we knew it, Sabine had walked a whole mile!
I think what impressed me the most was the atmosphere of elevated thought, joy, expectation, and genuine love. I heard that several campers with special needs were breaking through limitations and doing new things at camp. But of course, that is to be expected!
Sabine breaking through limitations and experiencing new activities.