Our first adult-only Café au Lait night provided a much-needed space for camper parents to connect, share stories, and express the challenges of living through a global pandemic with a child with a serious illness. Parents each introduced themselves and although they just met one another, they quickly dove into deep conversations like they were long-time friends catching up over coffee. Parents represented campers with diverse diagnoses and ages ranging from 7-17.
Many spoke to the worry they face in trying to strike a balance between creating a “normal” childhood experience while also wanting to protect their children and keep them safe from being exposed to COVID-19. There were understanding nods as one mom shared how isolated her daughter has been through this pandemic, and how much she needs socialization. Another mother chimed in with some ideas of ways they have created social distancing fun with neighbors and friends outdoors through water balloon fights across their lawns. She added that she puts a little soap to the water balloons, just as an extra precaution because even this activity can feel a bit risky for a child with a serious illness.
Returning to school, advocating for a child with special learning needs, and the difficulty of keeping their kids focused and engaged through virtual school, all were topics that they commiserated over and shared the difficult path they have journeyed. While some families feel that their child can return to in person classes safely, many other families are trying to navigate another school year balancing teaching and supporting their child’s at-home learning, while also working and supporting their other children. Several parents highlighted the challenges they have faced with obtaining the educational resources and support necessary for their child with special learning challenges.
Another father chimed in highlighting how much his son loved the Roundup River Ranch Here We Go Online experience. He noted that it was the first time in a long time that he could hear his son laughing in his room as he participated in silly activities and he even caught a glimpse of his teenage son, dancing along with fellow campers. Others chimed in expressing their sincere appreciation for Roundup River Ranch and the value of the free and accessible resources being provided to families, especially during these difficult times.
It was clear that in just over an hour, parents themselves could feel connected and were less isolated on their difficult journey of having a child with a serious illness. “It is so nice to spend this time with other adults and to talk to people who understand,” expressed one mom. The opportunity to talk about topics that are often unknown to their peers, neighbors, and coworkers, with an entire group of understanding parents, was a welcome support and one that allowed for connections to be made and a new sense of community to be formed.
If you’re an interested camper caregiver or know someone who could benefit from this program, click here to see upcoming program dates!