Our Experience at the Newcomer’s Weekend

by Pat Wyman

Pink cloudy sky with orange on the horizon that meets with a dark tree line.My husband and I were very excited for our 8-year old daughter with Spina Bifida to go to Bradford Woods for the first time this summer. We had heard the praises of Camp Riley for years but how could we send our little girl for a week if we had never seen it ourselves? So we chose to go to the Newcomer’s Weekend which was for the entire family. In a nutshell, it was wonderful. All of our questions about medical care, sleeping arrangements, activities, types of counselors, etc. were answered. No question was too “dumb” and the staff answered every question with the utmost care and respect for the child as well as the parents. We almost felt like our little girl would be the only one at the camp. Plus, we did not feel “alone” because all of the new parents to the camp were just like us - a little unsure. Not only did our children and siblings get to do some bonding, so did all of the parents (an extra bonus!). But most important of all, by the end of the weekend, we came away from it with a “peace of mind” that this is exactly what we wanted for our daughter. The Newcomer’s Weekend whetted her appetite for her week-long summer experience, and it provided the little extra assurance to us that this camp would meet all of our daughter’s needs.

Finally, I just have to say that one of the very special feelings we found after experiencing the Newcomer’s Weekend as a family was that our daughter was no longer the “different child.” Instead, she was just a “little girl” who might have a few special needs. It was this caring attitude that was displayed throughout the whole staff for the whole weekend that sold us on the Bradford Woods camp experience.