Each summer the Double H Ranch provides an opportunity for siblings of qualifying campers to attend camp for a week. Sibling campers experience the same joy and magic of camp – being a part of a cabin, making new friends, and enjoying camp activities. They meet other kids like them – those who have brothers or sisters with special needs. In our recent post, Seasons of Happiness, camper parent Shaun speaks about his son Shamus and the impact camp has made on him. We welcome Shaun back to tell us about Simon, Shamus’ younger brother, and his experience at Double H Ranch as a sibling.
Simon is the younger brother to Shamus, who was born with cerebral palsy. Therefore, Simon hasn’t known anything different than having a sibling with special needs. He has grown up with Shamus’ equipment, his therapists coming and going, and tagged along for lots and lots of doctor’s appointments. Simon has also seen Shamus require assistance from my wife, Nichole and me for most aspects of his daily life. As a result, Simon has become a sensitive, compassionate, caring and very helpful child.
He and Shamus are best buddies and Simon is great about adapting activities to accommodate his brother. Since they are so close in age and only one grade apart in school they love spending time with each other, but Simon also loves to be active and on the move. He understands that Shamus has physical limitations, and there are things like running and playing sports that Shamus is not able to do without assistance from others. More often than not, Simon is happy to be the one assisting him.
As the boys have grown, Nichole and I have encouraged them to have their own unique friends, and they each have a few great friends that they spend their time with, but they truly do love their time together. Simon loved going to Double H Ranch to watch his big brother ski during the winter. He would watch between games in the lodge and sledding on the little hill by the slopes. Of course Simon was with us when we dropped Shamus off for the first time for summer camp. It was an odd week at home for Nichole, Simon and me that first year Shamus was at camp. While I am sure Simon enjoyed the time to himself with us, he missed his brother and favorite play mate.
It was then that we learned about sibling week. We found out that Simon would be eligible to join his brother the next year at camp during a special week for campers and their siblings. It became something for the boys to look forward to the whole year leading up to it. Shamus would tell his younger brother about all the fun things they got to do at camp, and Simon couldn’t wait to be a part of the events at Double H.
Although it wasn’t required that the boys attended camp the same week, Nichole and I figured that it made the most sense for them to go simultaneously, allowing some time for the two of us to reconnect. In reality we didn’t know what to do without the boys in the house while they were at camp, but they had a blast. When we picked up them up, they each talked excitedly about their weeks at camp. It was great to hear each of them recount their stories. They weren’t in the same cabin, allowing them each to have their own unique experiences, but they had the opportunity to bond over their accounts of all of the activities they had participated in. From their efforts on the ropes course, to archery bulls-eyes, arts and crafts projects, the fish they caught from the lake, rides they went on at the Great Escape, and cabin escapades, they cherished hearing about each other’s encounters at camp.
For Simon, it also offered him the opportunity to see that there were lots of other siblings like him, who had brothers or sisters with special needs. Equally important was the chance for Simon to bear witness to Shamus being included by everyone in everything. Simon wasn’t the only one there to ensure that his brother was able to participate, everyone was there to ensure inclusion. Simon could quickly see that the playing field was finally leveled for his brother, and together, while at Double H, they were simply all there to have a blast and partake in summer fun.
By Shaun E., Camper Parent
>> Double H Ranch programs are designed to provide camp experiences that are memorable, empowering, physically safe and medically sound. Our program staff and counselors work to ensure all activities and events are inclusive for all children. Click or tap here to learn more about our summer camp program and camper eligibility.