Three children, one in a wheelchair, head towards a camping cabin from a lake behind them

The Joy of the MDA Summer Camp

I think we all can remember watching the MDA Telethon over the years. In addition to raising funds for research, a week at a summer camp for kids with a form of muscular dystrophy was also given.

Even though the telethon would show pictures of the kids at camp every year, we didn’t fully appreciate just what this camp experience meant to all the children.

Our son's first experience at the MDA summer camp

When our son, who has SMA, was going for the first time at the age of 10, we were given a first-hand glimpse of the joyful time this was for the kids. Mike was somewhat reluctant to go at first since he had never been away from his family.

To be honest, we too were reluctant in handing him over to a group of people we didn’t know.

Concerns about leaving him on his own

This camp was located in Medford Lakes, New Jersey, and had a rustic atmosphere. So when we arrived there to move him into his cabin, we had concerns about his ability to move around on the grounds. 

That is because he was still ambulatory but tired easily. We were assured that each cabin had a “helper” who would assist the guys in that cabin with any of their needs.

Mike was hesitant about this venture of a week at a rustic camp. I assured him that if he was miserable, I would come to pick him up to take him home.

New friends and experiences

So after a goodbye hug, we left him there. I waited every day for that phone call to pick him up. I was happy that it never came which meant he was having a good time.

When we arrived to pick him up the following week, the camp was crowded with campers, helpers, and many parents. Mike was not in his cabin and nowhere to be found.

We walked around for quite a while until we finally spotted him walking back towards his cabin with some new friends. This sight put a smile on both our faces.

He was looking like a happy camper, slightly disheveled with a few extra smudges on his face. He now was reluctant to leave his new friends and the experiences he enjoyed the whole week.

Accomodations for children with neuromuscular disorders

It was so heartwarming to see the excitement he expressed and hear so many stories about all the new experiences. He never stopped talking on the ride home and was happy to share his experiences with his siblings when we got back to our home.

This was the time before cell phones and the internet. So to keep in touch with new friends, it was a phone call from a landline or writing a letter.

I wanted to share this story on the MDA camp to shine a light on the wonderful work that is put in to accommodate the children who carry any form of these conditions. They get to experience a joyful week among their peers who are basically on the same level. 

You cannot put a price on a child having fun. All this was offered without any costs. A beautiful week of awesome memories. Thank you, MDA.

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