Declan is a very social 4-year-old Grandview kid, who just completed his first year of junior kindergarten in French immersion. While he thrived in his school environment, when that final bell rang for summer, Declan was excited and ready to go to Grandview’s Little Critter Camp.
According to his mother, Dena Poole, Declan couldn’t wait to get to camp.
Going to Camp
When he’s not at Grandview for Little Critter Camp, Declan visits for Speech Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy. At 2-years-old, Declan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
This summer, Dena decided to sign Declan up for Little Critter Camp after experiencing his first Christmas vacation and March break away from school, and the many meltdowns Dena says followed despite every effort to keep him busy and entertained.
“My husband and I decided that the structure and routine of summer camp would be greatly beneficial to him, and us. My husband also works various shifts, so this structure would provide a much needed consistency for Declan,” says Dena. “Deciding to go with Grandview was simple for me. I had been told about the camp the previous year but Declan was too young to attend. Also, it was an environment familiar to him and I had hoped would make for an easy transition. I also loved the ratio of children to staff. Right now, he’s registered for 7 of the 8 weeks camp is provided. We are hoping that a spot will open in the 8th week that we are waitlisted for.”
Upon his first day of camp, Dena says the staff were incredibly “warm, very open and so very encouraging. It was also great for me as a parent to see familiar faces, like Amy and Sherri’s. I think that was reassuring for him, too. Getting positive feedback about his day from the staff and being able to share that with me and his dad, I’m sure helps him to feel good about his camp experiences and friends.”
Staff Involvement Impresses Declan’s Parents
Dena says that it has been great to see such deep involvement from all of the staff, with everyone willing to help.“He might be assigned to one particular staff, but at drop off and pick up, they all know who he is and they often share stories about his day and the friends he’s making or helped,” says Dena. “I also think it’s great that the kids get to go swimming and that the staff get involved playing with the kids.”
Dena says that this camp has exceeded her expectations and has removed all concerns she had prior to camp starting.
“Honestly, I had my own concerns. Declan’s ASD is invisible to almost everyone who has met him. He’s come so far over the last two years with the help of therapists, a social worker and other Grandview staff, that we had concerns about regression, among other things,” shares Dena. “It has only proven to be quite the opposite. Camp has brought out a side of Declan we hadn’t noticed before – the big helper!”
Dena can’t say enough good things about Grandview and the support she’s received at the centre over the last few years.
“They were there for me when I knew something was different about my baby, and they guided me and helped me to get the help I needed for Declan to be successful,” says Dena. “We are still learning and growing, but I am so grateful to all the people who’ve been a part of our journey so far.”