Larry Makes a Milestone Leap
- June 19, 2018
- Posted by: UW User
- Category: Community Corner
Toilet training is a challenge for many parents and their children. When you add developmental delays to that experience, the task can become daunting. Families sometimes work for years at this task, with seemingly no end in sight, and then something magical happens, the child goes to camp with the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP).
That’s what happened this past summer for “Larry.” His mom reported that their family had been working for years to help him reach this developmental milestone, to no avail. He struggled, they struggled, and everyone found themselves disappointed and frustrated all the time. Becoming potty trained was a goal they all had, but they weren’t very hopeful that goal could realistically be attained – especially not in a short week at Camp CAMP.
There is no magic formula; CAMP is greater than the sum of its parts. What factors are at play when a child attends CAMP? First, it is a unique environment, unlike any other most children (or teens or adults) experience in their everyday lives. The expectations are all new. People have an opportunity to try on new roles, experience new things, and try all of that without others’ preconceived notions. This can be very liberating.
Second, CAMPers have an opportunity to witness others whom they view as peers accomplishing goals. This can be a very positive type of peer pressure. This relates to Albert Bandura’s Social Comparison Process Theory, whereby when individuals witness others whom they view as similar to themselves accomplishing certain tasks, they are more likely to believe they, too, can accomplish them.
Third, CAMP is a “safe place.” This isn’t just with respect to physical safety, but also with respect to emotional safety: CAMPers quickly learn that simply trying is considered a success, and that momentary failures can be celebrated as steps on the way to ultimate success.
Through whatever mechanisms were at play for Larry, his mother reported months later that he came home from CAMP no longer wearing briefs (the term used to help promote the dignity of those CAMPers who need to use them) during daytime or nighttime, and that he has not had any accidents or shown the need for them since. Larry’s mom was so grateful for the magic of CAMP helping them achieve a level of success they had been working toward for years.
Larry’s story is just one of many. There are stories of CAMPers who are normally fed by a gastric tube taking their first “bites” of food by mouth during their time at CAMP and continuing to do so once they return home. There are CAMPers who have struggled with some aversion to sensory stimuli, foods, animals, or other objects/stimuli, who overcome them while at CAMP. While the mechanism of success is not always known, we know the outcomes, and for the CAMPers and their families, those outcomes are nothing short of incredible.
Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) is a United Way nonprofit partner. Since 1979, CAMP has been providing recreational programming for children and adults with developmental, intellectual, medical, behavioral, and physical disabilities. Today, 39 summers later, CAMP’s main purpose remains to help campers reach their maximum potential, and has grown to serving well over 1,000 individuals with special needs every year.