From a Camp Loyaltown Mom
How were you introduced to Camp Loyaltown?
I was introduced to Camp Loyaltown in 2004 when my son, Noah was 7 years old. Another parent of a child with autism had told me that her son attended camp and loved it. I was so intrigued, how could there be a sleep away camp that could meet the high intense needs of children with varying disabilities and at the same time give me a break from the 24/7 care of my son? The next day, I contacted Camp Loyaltown myself to find out more. After filling out an extensive application to detail Noah’s needs, likes and dislikes, I went on an interview with Noah so they could meet him in person. Honestly, I was petrified of the interview as thoughts raced through my head. What if Noah acted up, had a tantrum or wouldn’t sit still? What about his poor sleeping at night? Would that cause them to reject him? Absolutely not!
Camp Loyaltown is thorough and individualized to meet each child’s needs, while at the same time meeting a parent’s need for respite. For many years I felt guilty when he was away at camp because I wasn’t with him. But that quickly faded as I heard from counselors and now am able to see pictures of him participating in daily activities, and interacting with so many of the wonderful and caring staff. Noah talks about Camp Loyaltown all year long and can’t wait to go back each summer. He refers to Loyaltown as “my very special place.” This summer will be Noah’s 15th year at camp!
What does Camp Loyaltown mean to you as a mom?
It’s difficult to express in words just how important Camp Loyaltown is to me as a mom of a young adult with autism. Honestly, I don’t know what we would do without camp. It’s a part of who Noah is but also allows some time for the rest of our family to be together without the added stresses that often occur with a diagnosis of autism. I have finally given up on the mommy guilt of not being with him all the time because when he’s away I know he is doing just fine. I want him to have opportunities that his typical brother and sister experience, like going to sleep away camp, sleeping in a bunk with friends, and participating in fun and new activities. I am beyond grateful to the staff at Camp Loyaltown. For 15 years I have only had positive experiences with camp and recommend it all the time to other families who have children with special needs. I rest assured each year that he is well cared for and that he is having fun. Many counselors have reached out to Noah and me over social media and tell me what joy he brings to their lives. It truly amazes me how very special, caring and dedicated the staff is, it brings tears to my eyes. The pure joy I have checking daily camp photos and knowing that Noah is happy allows me to relax, recharge and care for myself while he is away having the time of his life. For this I am forever grateful. Camp Loyaltown is one of the best gifts I give to myself, even though its Noah’s special place.
In what ways do you feel you receive support from the Camp Loyaltown community?
There are so many ways that I feel supported by the Camp Loyaltown community. Because Noah has been going for so many years, he feels comfortable being there, just like a second home. Many staff return yearly, know him by name and want to hang out and do activities with him. I like that although it’s a fun summer program, they continue to help Noah foster independence of his daily living skills, like making his bed, having him talk clearly while encouraging him to participate in activities throughout the day. Noah needs a lot of physical activity and each day a camp staff member will take him on a long hike around camp which helps him sleep better. These are all actions I request and because they are followed, I never see any regression of skills when he returns home. This is so important to me and again puts my mind at ease while Noah is away. The staff and administration really care and listen to the parents as well as the child’s needs to make it the best experience possible for the whole family. In addition, Noah took part in a Camp Loyaltown respite weekend in the fall which was fun for him, and also gave me the freedom to visit his brother on Freshman Parents weekend up at college, where I could focus my attention on my other son. Honestly, I can’t thank Camp Loyaltown enough for the years of support that is provided, not just for Noah but for me and my whole family. We love you, Camp Loyaltown, and look forward to many more years ahead with Noah!
Jennifer & Noah Trachtenberg
Jennifer Trachtenberg is a pediatrician, nationally renowned parenting expert, board-certified pediatrician, and long-standing member of the Camp Loyaltown community. This year her son, Noah Trachtenberg will be attending his 15th summer at Camp Loyaltown. To learn more about Dr. Jen, click here: http://www.dr-jen.com/about/