"I am really hopeful that my voice will be heard..."
I am a person with a physical disability and receive services from Alta California Regional Center.
I really enjoyed attending summer camps where I got to meet new people, make new friends, participated in different activities such as sports, dances, camp fires, fishing, scuba diving, arts and crafts. Being able to do all these activities really enhanced my feeling being independent. Since I live with my family, they also benefited from me staying at the camps by getting some respite time. However, I am no longer able to attend camps because the state funding for these services was discontinued.
I am really hopeful that my voice will heard, and the camp and social recreation services will be reinstated so that people like me could spend more time in the community and have the chance to socialize with peers, exercise to stay healthy and have time to relax.
Please support the restoration of camp and social recreation services to improve the lives of Californians with disabilities.
*One family, three stories*
Hi! My name is Randi C.
I am Autistic. I have been going to camp since I was 12 years old. I use to be afraid of people.
I didn't like to go out because I was worried about people not liking me. Then my mom signed me up for camp. I took a big bus up to camp. That was fun! I've been going to Camp Paivika since I was 12. I am now 42 years old. Camp makes me happy. I'm not afraid at camp.
I don't have to worry when I'm at camp. They take good care of me. And, I get to meet new people every time I go. New friends! If it wasn't for going to camp, I would be very Sad. The counselors are so much fun. I learn new things everytime I'm up at camp.They help me understand when I'm worried. Kenny and Kelly Kunsick run the camp. They are the best people. I know that they Love me and that I'm safe. My Mom doesn't have to worry about me when I'm at camp either because I know that Kenny & Kelly take really good care of me.
I can't wait to go back every year.
If I can't go to Camp Paivika, I would die inside.
* * *
This is Sandy, Randi's mother.
When Randi is at camp, she is a different person. I see the stress from her Autism melt away.
She's relaxed. So enjoys herself. She hates to come home. She cries all the way home from camp. But going to camp means the world to her. She's accepted! She's relaxed! She's Loved by those that work at this camp. For me, I get a great respite from her and at the same time,
I don't worry about her. Ever!! She is so well taken care of. I also get to relax when I know she is having so much fun. She takes pictures, brings home crafts, sends letters, and just has so much fun. I can barely afford to save up the money for her to go. It's been a struggle. So to take that away and out of the norm is almost unthinkable. Please reconsider allowing these clients to have some peace of mind and fun by reconsideration of this bill.
* * *
My name is Theresa, and I'm the younger sister of Randi. Randi is an adult camper that has benefitted from her camp program for over 30 years. She looks forward to camp every year; if she isn't at camp she is talking about how ready she is to go, and if she's coming home from camp she is talking about how she wishes the year would go by faster so she can go back. Randi has a wonderful time with her program. She always makes friends, learns new things, and benefits from the social interaction and learning opportunities she receives by attending. Camp is her favorite thing, and to see that joy limited from her or taken away altogether would not only be devastating to her, but to us as her family, as well. As things are, my mother struggles to gather the funds to ensure Randi attends camp, since the cost of the program continues to go up. Keeping the rates for camp at an affordable price is important to ensure the campers can afford to go. Randi is well taken care of while she is with her program and we don't have to worry about her safety or well-being. We know that she is having a fantastic time in a safe and nurturing environment. It is important to her to be able to attend camp, as it is her yearly vacation where all she has to do is have fun.
"We have never experienced it...."
I would like to tell you how camping and recreational impacted our lives, but I cannot tell you because we have never experienced it. My son who is 10.5 years old was born just prior to the Great Recession. We were denied early intervention services because funding was cut, but as it ends up my son really needed those services. He has made progress, but he is in self contained classroom currently, not mainstreamed. I would love for him to experience camping and recreation services. All the programs were gone after funding was lost. Trying to include a special education/child with disabilities into a mainstream program is difficult. They are asking for aides to be accompanied with the child. The programs just don't exist. Others outright say "we cannot meet his needs", without really know what his needs are.
"Each year Dustin teaches us something new..."
Our story is one of my son Dustin learning he can have independence from me, make friends on his own and enjoy a vacation with his peers and family.
Dustin was medically fragile from birth, he was given less than two years to live. He has Cerebral Palsy, is legally blind-Cortically Visually Impaired and extremely Near Sighted, has an extremely difficult Seizure Disorder, is Globally Developmentally Delayed, Incontinent, wears adult diapers, has a G-tube for dietary supplementation and passing meds directly to his stomach and non verbal. He must be carefully fed orally by trained staff to prevent aspiration.
With all of his challenges and complications Dustin is a real joy and loves to be fully engaged in many activities. He has a magnetic smile and sweet personality that draws people to him.
The world must be brought to Dustin in order for him to be engaged in the simplest of things that the rest of us take for granted. Going to Camp Bloomfield and visiting his family, 350 miles are without a doubt a very important aspects of Dustin's life.
At Camp Bloomfield It's a way for him to relax and enjoy being out in nature, participating in fun camp activities where he enjoys many camp activities. Getting in the pool on a special supportive raft we purchased to keep him safely afloat. Having his spine fused from T1 all the way down to his SI joint with 11 pounds of titanium has taken away his natural buoyancy, without the special raft he sinks like a rock.
Now he can be in the pool just like everyone else and he loves it! He enjoys Archery, Tie Dying T-Shirts, touching and feeding the horses apples- with hand over hand assistance. The usually wins at facilitated poker on Casino Night. He will choose the cards to keep, draw and enjoys placing bets with chips by pushing them forward on his tray top win and collect prizes! He taught us that he knew how to play 5 card poker! We had no idea that he could fully understand something so complex before Casino Night at Camp Bloomfield! The evening campfire, music and skits are always fun and fully Accessable for all. Pajama party breakfast is fun and Dustin loves camp food! Every year Dustin makes new friends independent of me.
None of these activities are possible without full funding to pay the dedicated staff to stay overnight with him and be his one on one 24 hours a day for the entire camp experience.
Every year Dustin teaches us something new about himself at camp that we are able to build on in his daily life. He is very competitive, we learned this with watching him work with his one on one at Archery and poker!
The funding for this is imperative, without it Dustin and his contemporaries are unable to get a much needed break away from the routine of daily life. An annual vacation out in nature, away from the city is something to enjoy and look forward to for everyone! After all we need things we can look forward to with excitement.
Please restore full funding for Camp; they are deserving of these life changing, enabling experiences.
"My son learns more social and communication skills..."
As a parent of a severely disabled child, I know that my son learns more social and communication skills from peers in a social setting. He is proud of his device use with peers. In a group context, he is more able to show self-control and learn new skills. Also, our family needs a break to reset our patience level. Camp provides this social net for us. Please restore these services.
"Attending camp was a major highlight..."
We helped raise our grandson who has autism. Attending camp was a major highlight for both him and our family. When you have a child with special needs it takes over your life, this population needs endless attention. Being able to attend a camp makes a very worthwhile experience for this population. They have a very positive experience and helps them socially to connect with new people. For the families, this time gives them much needed respite and time to devout to other family members.
"The pride is enormous..."
[I am a] consumer with cerebral palsy earned black belt in occupational therapy karate program. The pride is enormous. And leveraged into growth academically never thought possible.
"Goal-directed and clinically valid..."
As a therapist, I find social development to be among the most critical needs for persons of all ages living with intellectual challenges and needs. Lack of social skills leads to loss of dignity and isolation for both children and adults. Unfortunately, social development and enhancement services which are in reality specifically goal directed and clinically valid have been inappropriately classified as "recreational" (unnecessary) when in reality, they are therapeutic. I urge those charged with making these decisions to review the science associated with these services, hear the impact of these services on their lives, and act accordingly.
"Setting goals for himself and the skills to reach those goals..."
My name is Cynthia. I am the mother to a fun loving and playful 8 year old boy on the spectrum. He shows the desire to want to be social with his peers but lacks the skills to do so. He wants to do the things he sees his peers do and be active like them, but doesn't have the skills to do so. Our son has been active in karate since February. He really took to it immediately. Thanks to karate he has become an active child, he is learning the life skill of team building skills, he is learning to respect his body, spirit and mind and well as those around him. He is learning discipline, following directions, setting goals for himself and the skills to reach those goals. He is learning respect. All skills important for our family that he learns to ensure that he grows up to live a full and happy life, and a life where he can be as independent has he can possibly be.
"It would help him so much..."
My son, Jonah, has benefitted tremendously from inclusion at the YMCA day camps. He has worked towards IPP goals like frustration tolerance, social skills and personal responsibility. He has never slept away from family and it would help him so much to be able to attend Camp Paivika, a 5 night overnight camp for children with disabilities. It would give him the opportunity to develop the independence and confidence he needs at 15. It would further all of his IPP goals to be able to attend. We are praying the funding comes through. Thank you for our consideration.
- Rachel P.
"Biggest growth in language..."
I have 2 kids on the Autism Spectrum. Both have benefitted from camp, but my son needs a 1x1 to participate. My son had the biggest growth in language and play after his being around typical kids at camp in the summer. It also allowed for us to promote his being in an integrated program at school starting in 2nd grade, citing camp's benefits. RCEB funding has been necessary for this to happen. He is now in a practical program for the last 2 years, and I still see improvements due to his participating in summer camp alongside his typical peers. IPP goals of happy, healthy and self sufficient have definitely benefitted from camp.
"Positive results on his body from day one..."
This is not my own personal story, rather, the story of my now 22 year old son, Marcos. Marcos lives with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus, due to being born at 2 weeks gestation. When he was about 5 years old, his physical therapist urged us to sign him up for horseback riding to help alleviate the spasticity which affected him from the waist down. His spasticity affected his quality of life, and physical therapy alone was not helping. Initially, my husband and I thought this would be yet an additional treatment modality to add to the many services he was already receiving. At the time, money was tight, as I stayed at home to take him to the many weekly appointments he required. Despite safety network services, we had multiple expenses, which made it impossible for our family to engage in leisure activities for Marcos. We started taking him to the horseback riding sessions, and lo & behold, we were killing two birds with one rock. Marcos didn't realize he was getting therapy through these sessions. For him, he was finally engaging in a fun activity, which he immensely enjoyed. We could see the positive results on his body from day one. He was able to get relief from his spasticity for about a whole week at a time. He didn't need weekly enema treatments to help with bowel movements anymore. This was huge, as he was at constant risk to acquire peritonitis. He looked forward to his sessions, because he both felt the results on his body, and had so much fun riding his favorite horse, Fadsi. At the time, we weren't able to afford the steep price for these sessions. My husband and I took turns volunteering at a charity bingo to help defray the cost, however, we were still not able to cover the full amount charged. His regional center worker mentioned to us that they had started covering the fees for this service, and promptly added it to Marcos' IPP. He continued to receive therapeutic horseback riding services up until when he was 12 years old, and hydrocephalus related issues made it so, that he was no longer able to participate. I was dismayed to find out this service is no longer being covered by regional centers. Leisure is just an important activity for people with disabilities journey towards maintaining homeostasis. It is important, not just due to the physical benefits, but for the mental health benefits from participating in a fun activity. Leisure is not a luxury or a want. People with disabilities are at a higher risk for mental illness, and being able to participate in self-care is of utmost importance to be able to maintain mental health. IDEA mandates that services be offered to those who live with developmental disabilities, regardless of cost. I would like to respectfully request that you please fund these services once again. I know from personal experience how therapeutic horseback riding positively impacted my son when he was a child. I wish you had seen the sheer joy on his face when he was riding Fadsi. Please consider giving other kids the same chance!
"One of the most important parts of my daughter's life..."
To the decision makers in California: My daughter, Anabel, is 19 years old. She is able to speak only in one or two word sentences, as well as a few words in American sign language. She has been in special education throughout her schooling and is now in an adult transition program, learning work skills. My daughter began a therapeutic riding program when she was two years old. At the time, Regional Center paid for this program for her. This was the beginning of her life as a horse lover! When she was ten years old, I found the San Diego County YMCA camp, Raintree Ranch, in Julian, CA. Since then, she has attended Raintree Ranch every summer. At this camp, the campers spend at least half the day, every day, feeding, grooming, riding, and caring for horses. I am so thankful that I was able to pay for this on my own, since Regional Center wouldn't help us with the cost. I send Anabel to camp at the beginning of summer and again for the last session of the summer. The cost is now almost $700 per week. Anabel has grown up with a wonderful group of horse-loving kids who accepted her for who she is. Her cabin mates are now the counselors-in-training and the junior counselors. The camp experience has been one of the most important parts of my daughter's life. She has developed so much self-confidence and self esteem from riding at camp! This also gave her the opportunity to be away from home and learn from other adults and children. She always goes to camp right after school gets out in late June. Some years she is so excited about camp that she starts packing her suitcase in April. Additionally, she has become a good rider, which has given her a sport that she can enjoy for a lifetime. While I was able to afford to pay for this enriching life experience for my daughter on my own, it was difficult for me to afford it at times. I know of many other developmentally disabled children and young adults who would never be able to afford such an experience on their own. It is my sincere hope that the Regional Centers will help these families send their children to camp.
"He can be more independent..."
Dear California Legislators,
I am a mother of a 26 years old young man who receives services through Golden Gate Regional Center. This letter is to support the restoration of camp and social recreation services for Californians who receive regional center services.
My son enjoyed having the opportunity to socialize with others outside of our home and family. He wants to keep living at home, but that makes it harder for him to socialize with others if I can't take him or drive him around.
The opportunity to have a camp funded means that he can be more independent and enjoy his days and feel he is capable of doing more independently without his mother. He can be able to create new friendships and develop more independent skills. Most importantly, we don't have the financial means to pay for many great opportunities out there. We need the financial support so my son doesn't feel so isolated!
Please support the restoration of camp and social recreational services to improve the lives of Californians with disabilities.
"All kids should have an opportunity to participate..."
This is Bradley's story as told by his mother who has witnessed his progress. Bradley loves to be with his friends and feels proud when he accomplishes goals. However, Bradley has autism which interferes with his ability to truly interact and learn by traditional means. Going to a week of sleep-away camp each year allows him to be with his friends, engage in supervised activities with them and grow his social interaction skills. It is the only social setting where he receives constructive input and encouragement to be social. Consequently, over the years he has moved from the fringes of each activity to the center, or close thereto. Now that Bradley is finished with school, camp serves as his own, personal vacation and link to friends he no longer sees in school. It is something he looks forward to every year and talks about constantly. Camp is a life enriching time for Bradley and needed respite for the family. All kids should have an opportunity to participate in camp.
My son, disabled since birth, benefits greatly from socialization opportunities, and these encounters enhance his development. Camps provide a unique opportunity for disabled individuals to socialize and flourish in a controlled environment. Camps not only provide respite for the parents, they provide unique opportunities for their clients.
"These young adults build social skills..."
I advocate and provide case management for many disabled young adults. Camp is a prohibitive cost for families when they are already at a financial disadvantage due to caring for their adult child, medical costs, lost wages, etc... And these camps are more expensive than others due to the added need for care for this population. These young adults build social skills and make friends for life, meet others they can relate to, and have a chance to participate in activities which provide a sense of normalcy for them and which they might not otherwise get to try. The smiles they come home with are simply amazing!
"I hope with all my heart..."
I have enjoyed camping since I was a youth. I am now 71 years old and I hope with all my heart that youth will continue to enjoy this experience. Many people use outdoor camping experiences for religious reasons. They feel the spirit of God in His creations.
"The skills learnt are life-long..."
I am 61 years old. I have central auditory processing disorder and specific learning disabilities. I also have four (not one) advanced degrees. Yet, I did not speak anything until age 6, I did not read until age 12, and I entered and attended university at age 16 (starting at our local jr college). Few people can speak with the in-depth understanding of why sports, why camp, why recreation are important to the well-being, the development (social, physical, educational, emotional) of a child , a teenager, an adult, an elder as I can. I know personally why funding services of social rec and camp are important to success in life. I can.
My parents, of course, important because during a period in the history of education in California there were NO programs for children with disabilities in either the schools or community recreation arena. There was virtually little understanding of hidden disabilities. And, so, I went to school not labeled "LD" and only survived the system because my parents stepped in to work with teachers, school administrators, and others. My parents did not see me as 'handicapped', they saw me as needing more activities, more support, than their other child. They decided to go 'full on' and find me extra help, extra services, extra support from the community. One area they explored and decided on was CAMPS--- they understood with out really knowing why, that being outdoors, being active doing swimming, arts, camping, and other forms of recreation highlighted my abilities better than being in a classroom seat confined and made passive because I had no voice ( and was just perceived as quiet).
Had I not had music lessons, sports lessons, community arts courses, camp fire girls camp, 6th grade science camp, and the support of my parents and teachers.... I would not have been given what I needed to become successful. I learnt by participating how to compete with others ( example in synchronized swimming and team swimming and tennis) I got my first exposure at camp. Sports gave me a voice. I was better at these things than reading. I learnt to be a helper to others who did not have my aptitude for using their body as fast and furious and able as I . I found a place that empowered me. And, by being empowered, I did not feel stupid. I felt accomplished. Thanks to my first camp at age 7.
To the Assemblymember and Senator who represents me........please take a long hard look at why it is important to support, continue funding camps and rec services. Understand these services are what empower learners. These services may by many be considered "extras' BUT THEY ARE NOT--- they are essential to learning. The skills learnt are life-long for health.
I can not express how important it is for people with disabilities, students with disabilities to have access to activities outside of the classroom.
"I know how important it is for families..."
My daughter Chani enjoyed camp for many years. Although she is longer with us (death 2011) she loved to go to camp. Chani couldn't talk but she was able to show me how much she loved it. When it was time to get ready for camp I would start packing all her clothes and get out the sleeping bag. When she saw the sleeping bag she knew it was time for camp. She would let out a big squeal and point to herself and I would say "Yes you are going to camp", again another big squeal and a huge smile on her face. Additionally, when Chani was at camp my other daughter (without special needs) would go to Disneyland for our own vacation. This was our special time together and when Chani was at camp I felt comfortable that Chani was safe and well provided for. Even though I no longer require this service, I know how important it is for families with a special needs child. Without the funding from SARC, as a single mother, I would not have been able to afford this service and Chani would not have been able to go. I am very grateful for those times.
"He would benefit greatly from camp..."
I am a parent of a person with a disability who receives services from Inland Regional Center. This letter is to support the restoration of camp and social recreation services for Californians who receive regional center services.
I would like camp and social recreation services restored because my son Joseph has never been able to participate in camp or social recreation services because of the costs. I can only work part time while he is in school because he requires constant attention and care. Even with SSI and IHSS my income is low. My son has been experiencing declining mobility issues. This has greatly affected his self-esteem. He would benefit greatly from horseback riding lessons but because of the costs we cannot afford it. Horseback lessons has been shown to improve core balance and stability and boost self-esteem.
He has also never been to camp because he would need a 1:1 aide while he is there, and the cost is very high. He would benefit greatly from camp as he has limited opportunities for social interaction. My son is 20 years old and has never been to a sleepover and has never even been invited to a birthday party. As a parent it’s heartbreaking to see him missing out on experiences just because he has a disability. Being able to go to camp would mean the world to him and would allow him to feel some independence.
Please support the restoration of camp and social recreational services to improve the lives of Californians with disabilities.
"He has grown and become more self-confident..."
Our son is a 27 year old young man with Fragile X Syndrome living at home with us. Although he attends a day program, he has very little opportunity to socialize and have new and fun experiences. When he has attends events and camps, he has grown and become more self-confident and independent. We need these options to give him the opportunities that foster his growth and development. Please restore these most important services.
"Gained a sense of normalcy..."
Going to camp was a life changing experience for our family. We felt isolated living in a small city like South Lake Tahoe. Our son was able to experience recreational opportunities that were not available in our area. He was so well supported that we were able to let go and allow him to be with others who helped him feel more independent. He gained a sense of normalcy as other people go to camp and have enjoyable experiences away from their parents. Now he is able to participate as a camper/intern and helps with set up and feels more mature. He has learned how to grow and step into more grown up roles. It’s a great goal at camp to give not just receive. Please restore this opportunity for this population. It has multiple layers of benefit.
"A life-saving bridge..."
My son is 22 years old and has autism. it has been a difficult journey with him in this diagnosis. His deficits in the social aspect has made the outside world seem hostile. Social recreation special needs programs has been a life-saving bridge that helped him to make small steps towards the outside world and find structure social interaction to be fulfilling & encouraging. These programs provides a refuge for him to take courageous steps towards a healthier interaction with the world in which he lives and moves. Please do not take them away.
"Participate in activities as their peers do..."
There was a time when Brandon was maybe 4/5 years old that I seriously thought I was not able to go on family vacations, he will not stay still for a very long time. When he goes camping it give us a time to do those things. When Brandon goes camping he learns about being around other people, being on his own.
Giving families that opportunity to use funds for recreational services is a great idea and will give families the opportunity to enrich their every day lives been able to participate in activities as their peers do.
"To feel like they belong..."
I have two sons (of 3) who are intellectually disabled. Being disabled can be quite isolating socially and my sons are quite lonely much of the time. Their activities revolve around me (mother) which doesn't satisfy their need to socialize with others their own age. Camp and other social opportunities enable my sons to feel like they belong and do something fun. They can really be themselves and be appreciated when activities are tailored to inclusion. While they were little I sent them to many "mainstream" day camps but usually I got a call after a day or two saying that they could not accommodate them. In other words they were willing to include a child (not discriminate) if they behaved like "normal" children. Disabled people need opportunities too!
"Key to his success..."
My son Bradley is severely impacted by autism and severe anxiety. We moved to California in 2013 from CT. In CT Bradley benefited from department of Developmental Services funded camps, as wells a more extensive respite supports. Since moving to California he has only participated in one camp and then Regional center advised that recreational funding had been stopped. Bradley has regressed significantly since moving to California. I believe the recreational funding is key to his success. I would urge the senate to vote to have these vital supports restored.
The camp Bradley benefited from provided a safe and supervised environment for Bradley to develop healthy life, self-care and relationship skills.
"We need your support!"
As a family with two boys with a rare genetic disease, daily life is like a grind - hard to describe as a brief story but you could imagine doing everything you did for your one year old baby - for 10 years straight and counting, and that's just part of the daily routine. Having access to overnight camping (or even day camps) is a HUGE benefit to us, because it enabled us to actually plan some time off exclusive to ourselves. Though just a few days, such respite are one of the only kind that would refuel our minds and restore the energy. I'd argue it is absolutely a life necessity, and therefore restoring funding to such activities is critically needed for the thousands of families with special need kids. We need your support!
"Please allow other families to experience this..."
My son Aidan who is severely autistic, has attended Camp Krem for 6 years. This is his favorite and really only recreational activity all year. It also allows my family to have a break. Life with a special needs individual is very challenging and the opportunity for him to attend camp and us to be together as a family is invaluable. Camp is his absolutely favorite activity and without camp the rest of us would never have the opportunity to take a substantial break. Please allow other families to experience this type of rest and recovery without a break I am not sure they can survive. Being a caregiver for life is a challenge.
"My son learns more social and communication skills..."
I am parent of a disabled child, I know that my son learns more social and communication skills from peers in a social setting. He is proud of his device use with peers. In a group context, he is more able to show self-control and learn new skills. Also, our family needs a break to reset our patience level. Camp provides this social net for us. Please restore these services.
"With the loss of funds...it has become a hardship"
Our son looks forward every year to camp, but with the loss of funds to help not only our children, but to provide much needed respite for families it has become a hardship to have our children experience the joy of camp, new friends, adjustment to new situations, and learning new social skills. Re-funding these services makes sense in so many ways for our disabled children, families like ours who have chosen to care for our children at home, but need more than a couple of days of respite - knowing that our children are in a safe place.
"Made me a better person..."
Science camp in the seventies was experience that every young person should experience whether they are rich or poor as it empowers their social skills, and meet others that they may not have met. I love the experience that I received going to camp away from my parents. [It] made me a better person. Restore this to the youths of California.
"The most independence and social growth..."
My 17 year-old son has been camping at Camp Krem since he was 10 years old, and it is an extremely valuable experience for him. It is the only social activity outside the family that he is consistently excited about, whereas with other activities we have tried, he often does not want to go. He has some behavioral challenges that crop up at home and at school, but he never has those difficulties at camp. Camp is the setting where he experiences the most independence and social growth, which are so important for his coming adulthood after he leaves school.
"A place that will foster their abilities..."
I serve 88 individuals with disabilities and I see that families are having less and less resources to help their disabled children. Camps provide important community involvement. Typical camps that "typical" (not disabled) children attend are easy to access. Camps that can accommodate children with disabilities are typically further from a family home and harder to access. Families with children have many costs, along with additional stress that someone without personal experience doesn't even realize. If your child had limited access to fun (birthday parties, play dates, amusement parks, even community parks) you would be dying for some sort of positive outlet for your child to connect with others, meet other peers, have people understand them and not feel "different" and some places with meaning activities. Not just someone to watch your child. A place that will foster their abilities even though they have differing abilities. For the parents of a disabled child, you rarely get a break. Other children grow up and increase their independence skills but for those families that are caring for a disabled child, you have this duty for life. Camps or social recreation bring normalcy.
I strongly advocate for the restoration of camp and social recreation services for the individual that I serve!
"Safe environment for him where he could have fun and learn..."
My son benefited from camp escapades by socializing and interacting with many other children with similar special needs like his own. He really enjoyed participating in the activites at camp, the art, water play, animals. With all the staff and volunteers we felt this was a really safe environment for him where he could have fun and learn. Camp is important to childrens lives so they can have this wonderful experience and have the therapy staff there to assist them with these experiences. Please restore the funding for camp so that more special needs families can participate in this program. Thank you!
"We don't even have camp as an option..."
It is so sad that in the area that I live in we don’t even have camp as an option. My son is only getting services from the school and it isn’t much. This program shouldn’t be cut from the budget it is important that these children meet other children to know they are not alone or they are not different than any other children and they can do the same things to not be excluded from opportunities available to main stream individuals.
"Ecstatic their adult child was successful at Camp..."
“It is just so wonderful for you to bring these people out here”, “You must have so much patience”, and “Can we buy you all ice cream?”
I am a Manager at a Day Program Provider and do a lot of Social Recreation and Overnight Trips with our individuals. These are the comments I have received more times that I can count when we are out in the community. The general public is surprised to find individuals with developmental disabilities in the community engaging in activities just like them. And while all the people that have approached us are coming with good intentions and we all love free ice cream, in 2018 it should not be shocking or deserving of comment to see individuals with disabilities in the community.
For many years our Center enjoyed Camp each summer. When rates continued to be stagnant, all of those activities stopped.
We were able to bring back Camp and Overnight Trips (Lake Tahoe, Horseback Riding, Disneyland, Kayaking, Skiing, and more) over the past six years by having individuals pay their own way and fundraising.
It has been amazing to see the response from our individuals and how much they enjoy getting to be a part of these trips. It is a highlight and something they talk about all year long. I have one participant who every time he see’s me, calls me “Miss Lake Tahoe” and tells me he is ready to pack his bags for the next trip. I have participants carry around a photo from their trip and show it to everyone they meet because they are excited to share their experience. While we are enjoying a week at Camp, people are asking me to put their name on the list for next year.
These opportunities also support the individual’s family. I have seen parents get to take their first vacation just the two of them without their adult child because we took their adult child to Disneyland for five days. I have seen parents ecstatic their adult child was successful at Camp and excited to learn they tried a new activity. It opens up doors for growth and helps individuals achieve things even their families never thought they could do.
As we continue to grow and expand our opportunities, we are limited to fundraising and having participants pay out of pocket. Restoring social recreation and camp would open up these opportunities to more individuals and also allow us to do trips more often.
I have seen firsthand the positive impacts these opportunities have on individuals with developmental disabilities as well as the community as a whole and cannot advocate enough for their restoration.
"An important bridge to more independence..."
I have an 18 year old son named Patrick who has Down Syndrome. Since he was 14, he has participated in a wonderful camp called Camp PALS. At this camp a teen or young adult with Down Syndrome is paired up with a typical young adult or teen. They spend a week living together in a dorm room and doing fun activities with the hope that the time spent together will help the disability become less important and that a friendship will form. For Patrick, this camp has provided opportunities for independence, friendship and an image of himself as a college student. The small skills that impact daily life are learned as a camper navigates bathing on his own, getting his own food in the dorms, falling asleep on his own, working with peers in small groups on activities. There is important learning of these “soft skills” in these social/camp recreation opportunites that really can’t be found anywhere else. These soft skills develop organically in the camp situations and offer an important bridge to more independence once the camper comes home. Please work to reinstate these important services for our most vulnerable population in California. Thank you!
"I cannot afford these service..."
I have 3 kids in the spectrum I would love for this services to be restored social and camp I’m a single mother that need this help I cannot afford these services.
"Would improve the quality of my life..."
I’m one of many regional center clients who may benefit from social recreation. While some can utilize a day program, some like me could benefit better from social recreation. For starters, I attended a day program for almost 3 years and during that time was socially isolated by peers. I feel that a social recreation program could have better met my needs because a social recreation program specifically focuses on leisure, recreation and having fun community outings so clients may be more friendly since it’s leisure and entertainment based so there may be better social opportunities. Also due to health reasons I can no longer attend a attendance mandated day program but still would like social recreation and leisure opportunities. Persons with disabilities often are isolated due to disability and struggle to succeed, so I believe social recreation opportunities should be and could be funded even limited restoration of social recreation would improve the quality of my life and many of those with disabilities some of whom cannot attend a day program 5 days a week due to health reasons. Another problem created by day programs is that most want 5 day a week attendance so a disabled consumer cannot work or go to college if they are in a day program. And some clients have supported employment or are working a regular job but these clients would also benefit from social recreation. I heard of one social recreation program that existed in Bakersfield prior to 2009, this program was helping bring leisure and enjoyment to many disabled consumers, it was also in the evening so consumers who work could after work enjoy a community outing such a bowling, a movie or going out for pizza. This program was popular and benefiting a lot of consumers. I hope that even some limited social recreation program funding is restored because for the above reasons not everyone can use a day program and yet would benefit from social recreation opportunities.
"Meeting new friends..."
I love to be on horse and camping with friends. Meeting new friends, games, singing. I like camping and having someone who is with me all the time and help me out. I want to be able to go camping and meet friends Please bring back money to help me go to camp.
"I was able to work on my job skills..."
I am a person with a disability and receive services from Golden Gate Regional Center. This letter is to support the restoration of camp and social recreation services for Californians who receive regional center services.
I enjoyed attending camp because it was fun. I like to be with my friends. I like the opportunity to be outdoors. We get to sleep under the stars. I want to be able to go back next year.
I like my social and recreation program because I get to go swimming, hang out with my friends and staff, and play basketball. I was able to work on my job skills that lead to me having a job in the community.
I would like camp and social recreation services restored because it will make me happy. If I did not have my social recreation program I would not get to do all the things that I enjoy.
Please support the restoration of camp and social recreational services to improve the lives of Californians with disabilities.
"It's the one thing she enjoys very much..."
My daughter, Butterfly, loves going to camp. It’s is the one thing she enjoys very much. She knows that she will have a lot of fun. She makes friends, do arts and crafts, and going on hikes. She is more independent. After one camp last summer, she came home with new skills such as taking care of her own hygiene and making her own bed. Please reinstate the full funding for camps. Thank you.
"My husband and I have peace of mind..."
My daughter, Coco has been attending a city Parks and Recreation Summer Camp for four years. This amazing camp provides 7 hours a day, 5 days a week of opportunities to learn and practice social skills, communication and self-help skills with same age nondisabled peers. . The caring and well-trained staff at this community camp are on top of my child to be independent and have fun wile making friends. A very nice bonus is that Coco's older sister works as a Counselor in Training (CIT) and is able to interact with her at camp. Coco talks about her experiences and opportunities all year long. It give all of us something to look forward to all year round. She has met friends in this camp that go to her school and that are in her Girl Scout Troop. My husband and I have peace of mind and confidence that not only is our child safe and well cared for, she is engaging in meaningful and impactful activities while we are away at work. This camp also offers extended care in the morning and after camp in the event we need more child care than the actual camp hours provide for. Her time at camp add meaning increase the quality all of our lives. Because of the ample opportunities to practice social skill, she makes progress on her IPP goals every year. Her progress on these goals transfers and generalizes into our everyday lives at home and in other community setting.
-Erik & Amy L.
"Alison's life has been immeasurably enriched..."
I am a retired special educator and a long-time volunteer with Camping Unlimited/Camp Krem of Boulder Creek, CA. My daughter, Alison, 49, who is developmentally disabled, has had her life greatly enriched by the activities and the social interaction with peers and with the Camping Unlimited counselors, since she was in her early teens. Alison lives independently in a senior housing facility which offers housing to a few people with developmental disabilities. Alison is an "independent adult", with family support, the help of ILS services and a supportive work activity program. She has some earnings and she receives financial support through SSI. Her resources and family help make it possible for her to occasionally take trips with Camping Unlimited to places of interest in the Bay Area. There are many adult campers like Alison who have worked hard to live independently. As a result of their "independent" status, they are not connected to programs which offer recreational opportunities. Alison's life has been immeasurably enriched through her sense of belonging to her Camping Unlimited community. Everyone needs good healthy activity and wholesome connections with others. Our family has been able to help Alison to continue her social recreational activities, though the cost of transportation and the program costs are high.
Many, many disabled adults are yearning for the connections my daughter has enjoyed.
Effective camp programs provide social connections and teach steps toward independence and self-confidence for children, as well as providing respite for day to day caretakers. Effective camp programs also provide socialization and recreational outings for adults who live in residential facilities or in their own apartments. Few of those who live on their own can afford the current cost of camping programs.
"Her balance has gotten significantly better..."
Riding horses with Project R.I.D.E. Has been amazing for my daughter. We have been going there for almost 5 years. I notice that her balance has gotten significantly better and the fact that her muscles have to stretch to be atop a horse help with her spasticity in her lower limbs. It also is a great place for my daughter to meet children who struggle like her, and for me to meet parents going thru similar struggles to help our children.
Before my daughter I volunteered my time as a teenager with another horse organization called Ride to Walk. Being there I learned of how therapeutic these horse rides were to kids with special needs. I met a child who was told by doctors she would never walk...and to everyone’s surprise she did! It was amazing! Seeing that miracle with my own eyes left me in awe of the benefits of riding a horse.
Horse riding is a expensive activity. Having a child with special needs already drains us financially. Having to pay for her to attend has beens hardship. I have been fortunate that family has rallied around us to help support her financially to make sure she never misses out on her lessons. It would be so helpful to have these lessons paid for.
Please support the restoration of camp and social recreational services to improve the lives of Californians with disabilities.
Thank you for your time.
"Often times, this is the only social opportunity..."
I have worked with adults with developmental disabilities in various forms for the last 25 years. I have worked in group homes, supported and independent living, day programs, recreation and travel programs, camps, and finally helping people start micro-enterprises. I cannot emphasize enough how important the recreational programs such as camps and socialization. Often times, this is the only social opportunity in these folks lives. These programs were cut with a promise that there would be another way to access services, but we have failed them again! I have personally witnessed horseback riding bring several people with autism outside of themselves and help them interact with people around them. Camp is an opportunity for folks to be themselves and enjoy social interaction instead of being secluded and segregated. Please please please reestablish this funding.
"Would add to his quality of life..."
I would also like to share the benefit of camp and recreational services, but Andres has never had experienced it. I would hear, stories about it through the years. He is 20 years old- I stopped hearing about it a long time ago. Our family would have and can still benefit greatly, from camp and recreational services; Andres can build on all his skills! Especially community, social skills, health and safety- the real life experiences are endless! This option would add to his quality of life living in California, as well as offer a respite for his family who cares for him 24/7! Families can use this as a support, in meeting other families, again Community!
"Yet, when it was time to attend these services..."
My son benefited from Regional Centers recreational programs such as swimming and music therapy. His autism was so severe we couldn't get him out of the house. Yet, when it was time to attend these services we noticed he wasn't as resistant and slowly began to tolerate the outside world. I can't imagine what his upbringing would have been like if he didn't have this types of services growing up. As an adolescent, he now faces a different set of challenges and is in a situation where he is in need of recreational programs to help him with his social skills. Please bring back this services, they are life changing.
"Her confidence she realized in herself..."
My granddaughter's first camp experience was not only her "best time ever," it was enlightening as to her confidence she realized in herself. Sharing a room with bunkbeds and girls she had never met before, enlarged her world not only there but she used that bigger world she saw when she returned to her senior year of high school. Since i will be retiring soon, I am not sure I can afford to send Haleigh to camp on my own next time. I am hopeful that her summer this year will enhance her vision of what kind of adult she wants to be. She is high functioning for developmentally delayed reasoning, and has already stated that she thinks she will ask to become a camp counselor. I am so proud. Please not only listen to this plea - but hear it. Assign some monies to the Regional Centers for the camp and social recreation so that those who need special help and want to experience camp, can get the support needed to go.
"The exact skills I want to teach my children..."
Please restore camp and recreation services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Camp is an invaluable opportunity for kids. At camp I personally gained confidence and learned that I could function as an independent member of society.
Now that I am an adult parent of a child with a disability, I've learned that these are the exact skills I want to teach my children. Independence and confidence are exactly what my child needs. If the state gives our children with disabilities a little assistance in participating in social and recreational services, we will empower them to become more independent and less reliant on everyone from their teachers to the state disability system.
Children with special needs are part of our state’s future. These children have the potential to be at the forefront of our society - our next generation of scientists, writers, designers and engineers. A fairly small investment in developing their self esteem and Independence through camping and recreational activities, will pay off in dividends.
Please vote to restore camp and recreation services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
"A godsend to our family..."
Camps for my 18 year old special-need son sponsored by regional centers' respite services have been a godsend to our family. They not only help my son to develop confidence and independence and provide him with a chance to enjoy himself immensely in a safe environment, they also provide me and my husband an opportunity to spend time with each other and strengthen our relationship. Camps for my son have been one of the BEST things that happens in our very stressful life. Without regional center's help, we would not be able to afford these camps at all. Please do not take this very valuable service from us.
"He felt included..."
My son has a disability and receives services from ELARC. I support the restoration of camp and social recreation services for Californians who receive regional center services.
When my son attended a summer camp, he not only enjoyed and learned safety skills in swimming lessons. He felt included in the program; the staff was understanding and supportive. It was a happy summer for him until these services were cut by regional center. We’ve tried other camps since and we ran every year into multiple issues.
Like acceptance from the staff, and not being included in all the activities that other typical children do.
I would like camp and social recreation services restored because it will include our kids the directors and staff would be more acceptance with our kids to participate in these programs. They will be out in the community not indoors isolated because there isn’t equality for our kids in reality. They would have more opportunities to socialize and make friends, be part of the community and be just like any other typical us citizen.
Please support the restoration of camp and social recreational services to improve the lives of Californians with disabilities.
"Totally amaze their parents..."
For over 10 years it was my pleasure as the director of family adult and child therapist – focus on all child therapies to hold Camp at UCLA. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to watch these young people more of over a week. They would come in so anxious having hardly ever spent a night away from home and by the end of the week totally amaze their parents with their ability to shower and change independently, keep their dorm room mate, and handle a tray in the cafeteria. Camp at UCLA. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to watch these young people more for over a week. They would come in so anxious having hardly ever spent a night away from home and by the end of the week totally amaze their parents with their ability to shower and change independently, keep their dorm room neat andhadle a tray inthe cafeteria. What is the week they shared the dorm, swimming pool, dining halls, and game space with many other camps including cheerleading music and computer. Lasting friendships were built and maintained throughout the hair either in person or by mail and later email. When campers were asked what they had done in the summer they probably answered they had gone to college. Although this is considered social recreational, I cannot think of any experience these young people could have had that we would have led to as great although this is considered social recreational, I cannot think of any experience these young people could have had that would have led to as great amount of growth in their self-esteem and executive functioning. Each camp had a theme that went throughout the week and was filmed by the students. This led to a product that they had every year to remember their experiences and their friends. The last year of camp, the trailer bill was signed in the middle of the week. This put a damper on the last days for everyone as they said goodbye realizing they would not see each other again. Please make it possible for us to reinstate this wonderful service
"It will continue to work wonders..."
My first job was as a camp counselor, I was 16 and had never been away from home for a very long length of time. I learned a lot that summer and I really enjoyed seeing how the campers enjoyed themselves while also enjoying nature. Our camp hosted many foster children who sometimes needed their own specialized kind of care. Many of them as never been to the mountains, or spent a whole week there. During that week, it was my job to let them experience as much as possible and give them a much needed break from their often troubled lives. Seeing how happy they were at the end of the week was one of the best feelings, but having them come back summer after summer was even better! I've personally seen the impact camp can have on kids and I know it will continue to work wonders on all who get the opportunity to experience it!
"I got to go on my own..."
I've gone to some camps as a child and an adult. I really enjoyed them because i got to go on my own vacations while my family could do some vacations without having to adapt every activities for me. I think every person with disabilities has the right to go to a camp every year and enjoy the nature and make good friends and memories. The volunteers, who assisted me with my needs, were so wonderful. So, I do think camps should be in the programs for the people with disabilities. They will have something to look forward every summer. Camps helped me to be creative; therefore, i've written a book and done a lot of public speaking, along working with disabled children, and I also use a communication device.
"This therapy has dramatically changed Christopher..."
Allow me to introduce you to our son Christopher. Christopher is 21 with Downs Syndrome. Christopher does Theraputic horseback riding every Wednesday with Dr. Terri Jennings.
In the begining we spent the entire lesson just getting him up the stairs and on to the horse. Nowadays he’s on the horse before we know it!
This therapy has dramatically changed Christopher in so many ways. His physical balance is much improved. It’s been great practice and therapy for the depth perception issue he has. It’s helped with his communication and his overall confidence. Just to name a few.
For many years we have done private pay for this service. What a benefit it would be to have this restored in our children’s services. I think of all of the other children who could benefit from these programs, but whose parents are unable to afford it.
"It's hard to have to budget what she can and can't do..."
I adopted my daughter from the foster care system. Her abuse is the cause of her delays. Not much was expected of her " you're picking up a vegetable" per social workers. As she grew older I enrolled her in all the activities I could. Horse backriding, baseball, overnight camps and after school activities. I have to limit the activities she can attend or pay for them myself, which is costly. The 20 out of home respite hours she receives a year requires me to limit the activities that I would like her to attend. Socially she shines and I am sure it is due to all the extra out of home programs she attends. She will never be like a "normal" kid but she does enjoy her activities and has grown because of them. It's hard to have to budget what she can and can't do because of the lack of funding. Let's take a step backwards and restore services that help these young people expand their limited abilities. Oh to be able to let her go to all the camps she wants to attend.
"He emerged braver, calmer, and happy to have new buddies..."
Do you know about summer learning loss? During summer break, while having fun with friends away from the classroom, school-age children lose some of the skills and knowledge they picked up over the previous school year.
For kids with developmental disabilities, like my son Carter’s autism, the losses are greater. The forced daily practice of appropriate social skills when school is in session is often replaced by isolation during breaks. Because of inherent behavior and social challenges, these children are far less likely than their typical peers to be invited to outings and parties—so summer is when we watch them recede and prepare ourselves for starting over with the new school year.
Summer activities like camp and recreational services are not just fun or distraction for kids with autism. They serve as safe zones to apply behavior-modification strategies and to keep learning about social skills in an engaging setting. Camp in particular is ideal for addressing the challenges many autistic children face—insufficient sensory modulation, unexpected behavior, and inappropriate social interaction—while helping them find support and friendship in the adults and kids of the community. I have witnessed first-hand the benefits of my son having attended camp: He emerged braver, calmer, and happy to have new buddies.
I am doing everything I can to raise a son who will become a confident, productive Californian. I have changed my life and career to foster his development with an end goal of his independence in mind. Please help support this work by restoring funding for camp and recreational services for people with developmental disabilities.
"I have witnessed..."
My name is Lori, I am a Special Education Teacher with the Elk Grove Unified School District. I teach Adult Transition Program. In our area we have Project Ride which is a social, physical horse back riding, horse care therapy program designed to assist special needs individuals with many different forms of therapy. I have personally been involved with Project Ride for many years. My involvement with Project Ride began when I was a Para Educator in our same district. I used to assist some of the student I worked with in an elementary class when they went one time weekly to Project Ride and got to either groom the horses or ride them. Later, as a teacher, I assisted with getting families involved in receiving Project Ride services. I have two of my own children who are not of special needs, but Project Ride greatly impacted both of my own children. My daughter began volunteering at Project Ride when she was 10 years old. She went over and gave horse grooming presentations to the "classroom" portion of Project Ride education. My daughter later became a volunteer to assist clients with their riding lessons at Project Ride. My son began helping my husband to transport as many as 7 horses to and from the Project Ride ranch and the Project ride facility. Through the years with this involvement, my family learned a great deal about the impact that this type of social program can have upon those with special needs and the people who support them. "in learning to ride a horse, we borrow freedom." This is a Project Ride of Elk Grove quote. It says it all. I have witnessed timid individuals begin to speak more to those around them. I have seen weak trunk individuals gain the ability to better sit up from riding weekly on a horse. I have experienced individuals who could not communicate clearly learn to do so through their riding lessons and giving the horse commands. I have witnessed those who had no job prospects, gain the knowledge and skills needed to work at a stable or animal facility cleaning properly, and caring properly and safely for animals. I have watched people's lives change for the better. I have personally witnessed horse's lives change for the better by being surrendered to Project Ride as well. I am a horse owner, and was a 4H Leader for Sacramento County for 15 + years. In that time, I helped many families surrender horses of their own that needed to be cared for but could no longer be used for the rigorous riding required by their owners. However, these horse's lives were not over, nor was their service. Many of these animals became the "ANSWER" to the prayers of the Project Ride recipients. Larger, long-backed, slow gated horses became those needed for individuals were were adults or individuals who needed to lie back onto the horse, and for those who needed to lie forward on the horse to learn trust, balance, trunk support, and basic riding skills. I saw tiny ponies become the "ANSWER" to individuals who were fearful to be near a large horse, learn to ride and move up to a larger horse in no time. I saw miniature horses pull carts for those unable to ride a horse, yet still able to be involved in their own therapy with horses. For the clients and animals, Project Ride became a sanctuary for many. Project Ride is NEEDED in our community! The special needs individuals and those who volunteer at the facility gain so much from Project Ride, it would be a tragic loss if it were not able to have funding needed to keep running. Project Ride has become a staple in the Elk Grove farming community at large, as many support this endeavor begun by a local school teacher so many years ago, by attending fund raisers and assisting those in the agriculture community to donate animals, feed, and supplies to this program. Project Ride and other Riding social facilities like it, are greatly needed by the special needs community and by our communities at large so that all of us can become involved in helping any individual with special needs to fulfill their highest potential.
"He needs support to be included in the community..."
As a family member my nephew participated outside the home at camps and lost that service. More importantly when unable to receive social recreation opportunities which is his choice he would remain at home as his grandparents were unable to take him out although they cared for all his needs at home. With the current services he receives he does not have any possibility of doing Special Olympics , going to the gym, church activities and any other activity I am able to do when I decide. He needs support to be included in the community. Now is the time to look forward and into the community and support those with disabilities. Thank you for your time to address this as it is about justice and the relationship to all citizens.
"The only place she could go..."
I am sure that many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families have written in about the tremendous value and benefits of the camp experience to people with limited social recreation opportunities.
I am writing because the legislature may not know that families also need camp benefits for their family members with I/DD. Families also have limited social recreation opportunities, largely because of the lack of available beds for out-of-home respite. While every consumer eligible for Lanterman Act services is eligible for out of home respite so that their family members can get a break, spare beds in licensed and vendored residential facilities are almost never available. This is an especially profound problem for the families of individuals who are more disabled and require 24x7 care, where spare beds are in especially short supply.
My daughter no longer requires respite, because we were able to secure supported living services for her. But I remember the years that went by when no regional center respite was available for someone with epilepsy – a condition that afflicts at least 30% of regional center consumers. It is hard to describe the stress that such families endure. Our regional center vendors several nursing agencies, but none of them provide care for less than a regular 8 hour shift, 5 days a week. Nursing respite is not available.
At the same time, there are no residential facilities that serve children in our entire county, so our daughter could never receive out of home respite while in school. Even outside our county, there was never a spare bed in a residential facility for someone requiring her level of care, year after year.
Camp was the only place that she could go. We paid for it ourselves, but many families cannot afford it. Please restore the camp benefit for their sakes.
"Would benefit so many kids..."
Our Son Reagan has been participating in horse therapy since he was diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2. At first it was paid for by the state. When funding stopped we had to come up with creative ways to pay. For about a year and a half we had to stop because we couldn’t afford it. Then a few years ago we met an amazing man named Doc Livingston who has a non profit therapy group called His Mountaintop Ministries which provides therapeutic horseback riding to special needs children. Reagan goes every Saturday and the difference in his focus, self confidence and social skills is astounding. We pay what we can and are doing several fundraisers throughout the year to help Doc pay for stall rentals, insurance and hay. I know he pays for a lot himself. The benefits of horse therapy are immeasurable, you’d have to watch it slowly unfold over a decade. As we have for our precious Reagan. Please, please fund horse therapy again. This would benefit so many kids and an excellent way for the state to spend its taxpayer dollars.