STORIES

Bridgette’s Story

Young girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder wearing a life jacket enjoying her time at campBridgette is a young girl who loves music and dance. She loves to be outside, running and jumping. She enjoys swimming with her lifejacket, simple puzzles and of course technology! Bridgette has been diagnosed with ASD, requiring assistance in all areas of personal care, and is very sensitive to noise. She is also non-verbal, communicating mainly through gestures and through the use of devices.

Upon arrival at the docks for her first camp experience, a pair of noise cancelling headphones were waiting to help block out the loud sounds of the motorboat so that Bridgette could ride the boat to the island camp with all the rest of the campers. With tears (from family) and anxious waves from Bridgette and the camp staff, her first overnight adventure began!

From the moment she arrived on the sandy island, Bridgette was a full part of her camper group. She participated in all the activities the camp had to offer, and loved swimming in the lake, canoeing, and dancing in the mud with her cabin mates. Bridgette enjoyed being outside all day long and into the evening and did not miss the technology she was so dependent on at home!

Then Bridgette got ready to leave camp. Most of her cabin mates were staying on for another week. And every single one of her cabin mates were crying because they did not want her to go. She had made so many friendships in those seven days that she simply wasn’t able to make outside of camp. They had broken down the barriers of communication and found ways to bond and laugh through shared camp experiences.

Last summer, Bridgette attended camp for the full two weeks. And when she was dropped off by mom at the docks, she headed straight for the boat with a quick wave goodbye and lots of excited friends and counsellors greeting her and welcoming her back!

In her mom’s words…

“It is hard to put into words the incredible impact REACH has made on our family. Camp has given her the independence that is so important for her growth and she comes back beaming with happiness – even after 2 weeks without technology. It broadens her interests and lets her participate in activities that she would normally never get the chance to do. That to us is priceless.”

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