Fifteen-year-old Daron is a happy teenager who loves music. Also, he has cerebral palsy and partial sight. He is nonverbal and says only a few words, so he uses a communication device to let his devoted family know what he needs—and to joke
around. Daron requires assistance with all the basic functions of life, like eating and dressing. His family and camp staff worked together to make sure that Daron had joyful, special experiences at Camp Bloomfield last summer.
Camp Bloomfield is Wayfinder’s overnight camp for children and teens with vision impairment or multiple disabilities. Since 1958, Camp Bloomfield has been offering life- changing experiences and sports adapted for children of all ages and abilities in a safe environment. Last year, hundreds of campers and family members had their own special moments: exploring the natural world, cementing friendships at the nightly campfire, learning a new life skill and becoming more independent.
For Daron and his family, every moment at camp is special. The family began attending Camp Bloomfield when Daron was a young boy. This year, Daron’s father, Hagop, and 18-year-old sister, Ani, came with him while mom Armine stayed home with Daron’s service dog.
Daron enjoyed archery and horseback riding. “I walk next to him to keep him on the horse because he is not able to stay on by himself,” Hagop explains. “That is one of my best moments.”
Daron also loves the water. According to Camp Director Mark Lucas, “Hagop was in the pool for an hour holding his son’s head out of water, laughing and having fun. The unconditional love and attention his dad and sister provide to Daron is absolutely 100% all the time.”
Camp is special for Ani, too. “She’s a little bit shy most of the time,” Hagop says, “but when she is at the camp, she tries to connect with other kids, especially the kids with vision problems.” Ani was so good at relating to the campers that Mark invited her to be a camp counselor next summer.
Hagop’s favorite activity was talking with the other parents of campers with special needs. “We shared with each other our concerns and the things we know,” he says. He likes disconnecting from daily life and being around other families facing the same challenges. “With Wayfinder, we feel more comfortable,” Hagop says. “We don’t feel like my son has a disability. We feel like everyone else.”
Daron really enjoys making friends and the social activities with other campers. One very special moment happened during karaoke at camp. Hagop and Daron were front and center as the first notes of Daron’s favorite pop song played through the karaoke speaker. When the chorus of the catchy tune started, Hagop says, “I sang the first line, and Daron sang the last word.” The campers and families cheered.
Inclusion through Camp Bloomfield
In summer 2023, Camp Bloomfield will take place at Camp Whittier in Santa Barbara. Also, Wayfinder is offering a special option for children and teens with vision loss to attend camp with their sighted counterparts at Camp Bob Waldorf in Glendale, California. This summer, campers and their families will experience even more special moments! Your support will ensure that children can experience Camp Bloomfield this summer.
Please consider a gift to Wayfinder today. You can give securely on our website now!
May 15, 2023