As I walked downstairs to the indoor climbing wall in the KIVA, all I could hear was laughter. I couldn’t see anything yet, but a rush of excitement filled the air as I heard clapping, cheering, and a sense of accomplishment in the voices of those who were talking. I turned the corner and saw three bright-eyed kids smiling as they continued to climb towards the top of the wall, taking the encouragement that their friends below were offering them and running with it.
I could tell immediately that these kids had an extraordinary zest for life. And how could you not when you get to spend a week with Adam’s Camp, taking full advantage of every opportunity available at Snow Mountain Ranch?
Since the camp began back in the mid-80’s, Adam’s Camp has aided individuals with special needs in finding and developing the courage hope, skills, and tools necessary for a life full of realizing potentials and developing strengths.
Adam’s Camp all started with a young boy named Adam. Challenged with cerebral palsy, Adam had yet to take his first steps by the time he was five. The school he attended wanted him to use a wheelchair, but his parents and therapists new that with a little help, Adam would be able to take his own steps with the help of a walker. After five days of intensive therapy, Adam managed to take his first steps with assistance.
A year after Adam took his first steps, five families took to Snow Mountain Ranch for the inaugural Adam’s Camp. There, families of individuals with disabilities took to the Rockies and attended the week-long therapy camp. During this time, Adam took his first steps, independent of the walker, and he’s been walking ever since.
Over 30 years later, the goal and vision of Adam’s Camp is still the same—help those with disabilities understand and achieve their full potential.
I had the privilege of shadowing this group for a day, and let me tell you, it is truly eye-opening.
Their day started at the KIVA with a session on the indoor climbing wall, proving to others and themselves that they are capable of overcoming any obstacle. Heights can be scary for anyone and there were a few times that I saw hesitation and fear cross their faces, but with a “good job!” from a friend, their confidence was instilled and the uncertainty was immediately washed away.
Next was the archery range. Going from one activity to the next, it was inspiring to see the light in each one of their eyes. I asked them before they got started if they were excited and without hesitation each one said “Yes!” with a smile to match. In a world that is constantly working on equality, acceptance and loving one another, it filled my heart to the brim to see the YMCA staff share the same excitement.
After taking their shot on the archery range, it was time for the most daunting activity of all, the zip line. Personally, I’m not sure I could’ve climbed up the ladder with as much confidence as some of these kids had. After being harnessed in and given a helmet, their excitement overcame any shred of fear that they might have had. I could see the distress on a few of their faces once they reached the top, having an “Oh no. What did I get myself into?” kind of moment. Honestly, I don’t blame them. I know for a fact I would also be second guessing myself.
I think we could all learn something from these kids. In the short time that I got to spend with them, I know I did. Despite any trials and triumphs they have been faced with throughout their lifetime, they take every situation into their own hands, face it with a smile, and enough determination and drive to conquer the world.
In the case of the zip line, each one of them took on the ladder rung by rung, leaving their anxiety down below with everyone watching, took a deep breath, and then finally took a leap.
Just from observing this group for a day, that’s what I learned. Always take that leap. Always take that chance and don’t ever let any circumstance, no matter how frustrating, overcome your willingness to try something new. That’s what Adam’s Camp is for their campers. A week full of fun, hope, and an overwhelming sense of “I can do this”.
Year after year, YMCA of the Rockies is honored to host Adam’s Camp, where the two like-minded organizations can team up to help individuals get the most out of life.
To learn more about Adam’s Camp, visit their website here.