When I was teaching full-time, one of my colleagues approached me while we were waiting for the buses to arrive. “We just listened to a man speak, from Be An Angel,” he told me, referring to the professional development he had attended the day before. “You have got to look them up. I think they have a camp that your daughter would be able to go to.”
Always curious about new activities for Iliana, I did look them up that night. I filled out an application, and, sure enough, she did qualify for their weekend family camp. So in February, 2016, we made a mother-daughter road trip to Camp For All, near Brenham, Texas.
…And had such a great time, that we made the trip once again in September….
…And three more times. We didn’t even let Harvey stop us (camp was two weeks after)!
This September was our sixth time attending camp, and it was as wonderful as the past five!
Camp Be An Angel is a family camp for children and teenagers with disabilities and their families. The camp is free for the families who are selected to attend, and a parent must attend with their child. The camp is run by Be An Angel, a charity run out of Houston, that also provides services and equipment for children with profound deafness and multiple disabilities.
The camp is held at Camp for All, a barrier-free camp in Burton, Texas. Both the Camp for All staff and the Be An Angel volunteers facilitate the activities during the weekend.
So here is the story of our latest Camp Be An Angel adventure!
Friday: Early Arrival!
When I was working full time, we always arrived after dinner on Friday. This year, since I was not yet working at all, I picked Iliana up from school early, and we made it there right before dinner!
The first order of business, was getting settled into our cabin. There are usually two families per cabin, although once there were three in ours. Our cabin-mates are usually in the same group as us, and we spend a lot of time together during the weekend.
We were the first to arrive at our cabin, so we found a set of bunk beds and got settled in! (In order to be accessible, most of the beds in the cabins are not bunk beds). And yes, that is a yoga book on my nightstand!
Pleased with our work, Iliana was ready to play in the dining hall, which is one of her favorites pasttimes at camp.
And then it was time for the bonfire!
Iiana was very happy to see her beauty pageant buddy, Madison, with her new service dog.
And they sang my favorite camp song, “500 Miles.”
Saturday: Very Busy Having Fun!
We always sleep well at camp, and morning meant breakfast, followed by–of course–dancing!
We saw our friend, Myra, who has been at camp with us all 6 times!
And happily, our cabin-mate was Kimberly, who shared a cabin with us last time as well!
Our day began with horseback riding, which meant that was got a hayride to the barn…
Iliana was very happy that some of her friends from previous camps, were in our group.
Everybody can do everything at camp, and they are equipped to make sure that the kids with wheelchairs are able to do any of the activities that they choose to do. So everybody rode horses!
Then it was off to the barn, to spend time with the animals!
Dali Llama is a very special animal in the barn, because he loves selfies! Ili and I aren’t that skilled though, so we have someone else take our picture with him.
Here is September, 2016…
April 2018, but a goat was standing in for him!
And here is our latest portrait with Dali!
After the barn, it was time for canoing…
Then everybody caught a lot of fish!
Then it was time to visit the nature cabin…
And everybody had fun in archery!
Iliana always enjoys photography…
And arts and crafts!
It had been a rainy week, but we were lucky to have good weather at camp. But Iliana got worried when it started raining right before her favorite activity, the zip line. Luckily, they had an indoor contingency plan. I had no idea that Iliana could Hulu Hoop!
Time to suit up!
Some kids climbed the rock wall while they were waiting.
Travis, who uses a wheelchair, went around the course first!
Then it was Iliana’s turn!
Zip line time!
In the dining hall, Iliana recounted her adventures and played with her friends…
And we got our very cute picture!
So after all that, it was time for bed, right?
Sunday: Still More Fun to Be Had!
Sunday morning meant picture time with our cabin-mates!
And, of course, more dancing.
Sunday’s singing and dancing always ends with the song “The World’s Greatest,” which always has the effect of making me cry. Here is a video from September, 2016:
After breakfast, there is an optional chapel service. And Iliana and I have our own tradition–a walk to the Tree House.
And then, the main event: the camp talent show!
Iliana sang “Champion” by Carrie Underwood.
Then it was time to return to the dining hall one last time, where Mr. Russ, the camp director, said “Good-bye” to everyone.
The end of camp is always bittersweet, but we will be back in the spring! And Iliana and I have one more tradition, on the drive home…
We always stop at Freezy Frenzy for Thai rolled ice cream!
It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend!