Ella and I sat at Dunkin’ Donuts, conversing about MDA Camp. (MDA is the Muscular Dystrophy Association.) She thoroughly enjoyed camp for all the wonderful activities she did, and especially for the people she became friends with.
The camp wasn’t all peaches and cream, as she cried herself to sleep the first two nights because she missed her parents. Who could blame her, though? It was the first time in her life she had been away from her parents and siblings for an extended period of time.
The waking hours, however, were a completely different story. She swam every day, enjoyed three square meals daily, went horseback riding, and did a lot of arts and crafts. Through all of this, she forged so many friendships with other kids and counselors. The last three nights, she slept soundly as she became more comfortable with someone other than her parents taking care of her overnight.
I took the two-hour trip south to pick up Ella after the five-day camp. When I arrived, she was in the main lodge, embraced in a hug from her primary counselor. I walked up to her, put my hand on her shoulder, and asked if she was ready to go.
“No,” she said. “I’m staying.”
I went to gather her belongings, giving her more time to say goodbye. Everything was all ready for me to pack up. I took my time loading the car so she could have as much time as possible to bid farewell. I finally returned to her in the lodge and we walked out to the front area. Her counselors gave her hugs and then we began our journey home.
When we arrived home, Ella starting crying. She was glad to be home, but she also wanted to return to camp. She said she loved camp and was definitely going to attend next year.
The people at the camp were wonderful. They took care of Ella and the other children like they were their own. It takes a special person to be able to work with kids like Ella — a person who is compassionate, patient, and kind.
We highly recommend MDA Camp for anyone who is afflicted with muscular dystrophy (or SMA). It’s a fantastic experience for all involved.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.