• Jamie Gerken

Colton at Camp

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

As a mom I try to focus on the positive. I find this especially important as the parent of children with special needs. It's easy to become overwhelmed with everything life and children throw at you, so sometimes, I have to remind myself to step back and appreciate the small victories. The story of Colton at Camp is one of those victories.

Colton is the youngest of my three boys. His older brother, Calvin, started Cub Scouts when he was in first grade. My husband and I became Calvin's leaders his second grade year which meant that Colton often tagged along. Colton loves to play with groups of kids and loved playing games at Cub Scouts with his brother. So, when he was old enough, we signed him up and became leaders for his Cub Scout Den as well. I'll save my Scouting speech for another post, but I want to tell you about this one Cub Scout weekend and why it was such a big deal for our family.


Our Cub Scout Pack holds "Winter Camp" every January. We go to a local Scouts BSA camp and rent the bunk houses for a couple of nights. In the past, I took Colton out for the daytime activities but didn't let him stay over night, even though his brother and dad stayed. This past January (2020), we decided to try letting Colton stay overnight. I should mention that Colton is non-verbal and wore diapers at the time, which was part of our hesitation. There are also Youth Protection guidelines in Scouting that require children to have separate sleeping areas than adults. We could have set up a tent and had Colton stay in there with us, but we wanted to give him the full camp experience. So, Colton stayed in the Bear (third grade) side of the bunk house and my husband slept on the adult side (there's a closed door in between the rooms). And he did it! Colton stayed both night with no issues!


We went out to the camp on a Friday night, put our stuff in bunk houses, played with the other kids, whittled sticks, and roasted marshmallows. Over the weekend he made it though the whole 2 plus mile hike, made a first aid kit, participated in an indoor "snowball" (fluffy white balls) fight, and stood in line to get his own meals in the dining hall. He had a smile on his face the whole time! This was his fourth year of Scouts and he was definitely ready to be one of the "big boys." He probably wouldn't have been ready for overnight camp in the previous years, but by sticking with it, he gained the skills to be able to participate.


I also have to say that the other kids in his den and pack are amazing. Most of them know him now and help guide him when he needs it. He followed the 4th and 5th graders to their bunk house once but they made sure he got to the right one.


It's experiences like this one that help me stay sane during the tough times and give me hope for the future.




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