“We’ll travel along, singing a song, side by side…” Two 8-year-olds, Katrina and Mason, sang this lyric on their first day at a music program for the blind, nine years ago.
Katrina remembers, “I felt like the song was a message to him. I felt like it would be a good idea to be his friend.” This notion blossomed into an enriching friendship, nurtured by their shared love of music and summers at Camp Bloomfield.
Check out Mason and Katrina performing together!
For 60 years, children with vision loss have explored the outdoors and built self-esteem at Wayfinder’s Camp Bloomfield in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains. In a safe environment, blind children enjoy the same traditional camp activities and sports that sighted children do. Most important, Camp Bloomfield combats feelings of isolation that many blind children experience.
One of the things Mason likes most about his camp experience is meeting new friends. Katrina agrees. “A lot of the other camps I’ve been to, the campers don’t like to talk to people with visual impairments,” Katrina says. “But when you go to Camp Bloomfield, everyone’s accepting.”
A few months after Katrina’s birth, she was diagnosed with an underdeveloped optic nerve. Today, Katrina can see light and shadow in her right eye and has partial vision in her left.
None of this slows Katrina down. According to Mason, “She’s very up-and-at-’em. If you ask her something, she’s… boom!” Katrina is an orange belt in jujitsu, practices archery and swims. But most of all, she’s a musician, like Mason.
Weighing only two pounds when he was born prematurely, Mason was put on a high dosage of oxygen, which caused his total blindness. He is a musician, skier and swimmer. “When we compose music together,” says Katrina, “he always comes up with these beautiful pieces of music.”
For many children, Camp Bloomfield is life-changing. They blossom. “Camp Bloomfield makes them feel that they can do whatever they want to do,” says Martha, Mason’s mother. Katrina’s mother, Megan, sees her daughter’s self-esteem grow too. “Camp Bloomfield definitely improves her confidence,” Megan says. “She seems so happy, and she’s not second-guessing herself.”
When they have free time at Camp Bloomfield, you will find Katrina and Mason in the music room. Away from camp, they maintain their friendship by playing music, taking walks and going to church. Katrina’s partial vision gives the two friends more freedom to explore, and Mason has picked up some skills from her. “I’ve learned how to pay at restaurants,” he says. “She’s even helped me fold laundry.”
This summer, both Katrina and Mason will be at Camp Bloomfield. “It really felt like a second home,” says Mason. “They sing the camp song to welcome you. It’s like a version of Disneyland, you know, the happiest place on earth.”
After high school, Mason wants to be a musician and start a band. Katrina plans to become a special education teacher while also teaching mixed martial arts.
“I hope Mason and I continue to be good friends, whether we have negative times or positive times,” says Katrina. “I hope that Camp Bloomfield will continue to be a great and wonderful camp.”
You can ensure that stories like Katrina’s and Mason’s continue to be part of the story of Camp Bloomfield. Please make your most generous gift today!
April 30, 2018