Lucas Belongs at Camp Bloomfield

Climbing a high ropes course in the dark … maneuvering up a slanted rock wall … riding a skateboard … navigating a tight corner on his bicycle. Nothing stops 11-year- old Lucas, not even the lack of vision in his left eye.

“Lucas is a fearless adventurer,” says Annelie, manager of Wayfinder’s Camp Bloomfield. But even Lucas, who lives life fully with partial vision, wants to belong to a community of people like him.

Lucas was born with cataracts in both eyes. Before age 1, he had five surgeries to save his vision. “The trauma from all the surgeries led to detachment of the retina in his left eye,” says Claudia, Lucas’ mom. “It wasn’t immediate. He didn’t know what his vision was supposed to be like, so he couldn’t tell us.” When discovered during kindergarten, the detachment was inoperable.

“I had a hard time with his diagnosis,” Claudia remembers, “but I saw how well he was doing. It didn’t faze him.”

When Lucas was 9 and completing third grade, he started having a hard time with his vision loss. “He was down on himself,” Claudia recalls. “He told us, ‘You guys don’t understand how I’m feeling.’ His dad and I tried to sympathize, but we didn’t fully understand because we aren’t visually impaired.”

At that difficult moment, Lucas’ teacher told the family about Camp Bloomfield. “We were scared and nervous,” says Claudia. “Lucas had never been away from us with anyone who wasn’t family. We decided Camp Bloomfield was what he needed. He didn’t know anyone else with visual impairment.”

Lucas was nervous, too. “I had not a clue who anyone was,” he recalls. With some trepidation, his mother dropped Lucas off at camp. “And within five minutes, he met a boy who was just like him,” Claudia says. “It was super heartwarming to see him connect to so many new friends.”

Lucas loved his Camp Bloomfield experience. “I learned that other people are in the same boat as me, figuratively,” he says. “It felt good to be with other kids with visual impairment. I hadn’t met anyone who understood my situation with my eyes. It felt good to talk about it.”

In summer 2023, Lucas seized the opportunity to attend Camp Bloomfield’s first inclusion session at a camp with sighted children. “I just love Camp Bloomfield,” Lucas says, “and so I wanted to go to another one.”

“Lucas seamlessly integrated as a vision-impaired camper into a traditional summer camp,” Annelie says. “He fearlessly embraced adrenaline-pumping activities, from rock climbing races to high rope courses at night.”

“I got to meet sighted people, and I asked them what that felt like being sighted,” Lucas recalls. “They didn’t really know how to describe it. They said they can see their nose if they look on the bottom left of their right eye.” Also at the inclusion session, Lucas and a friend started a Rubik’s Cube competition in their cabin with sighted boys to see who could solve the puzzle in the fastest time.

While he eagerly awaits Camp Bloomfield 2024, Lucas got his adventure fix by going on Wayfinder’s annual ski trip for youth with vision loss. “Wayfinder came at a perfect time for Lucas,” Claudia says. “He had a lot of questions, a lot of doubt. He needed to find a group of people like him. We are very grateful to have found that community for him at Camp Bloomfield.”


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May 9, 2024