Thursday, July 21, 2016

NubAbility Camp 2016

So there's this sports camp called NubAbility Camp in Illinois.  And we just took our 5 year old there.  Which sounds like a completely crazy thing.  That someone would drive 9 hours to take their 5 year old to a sports camp.  I promise you were are not crazy.

I actually had heard of the camp, tucked it away for future reference, and then thought twice after my friend, Sheri, who had attended multiple times said, "Nope.  Don't wait.  Go now."  

Here's the basic premise behind it:  what if limb difference kids could go to a camp, centered around sports, and be coached and mentored by limb difference coaches?  What if limb difference kids could see others with limb differences being successful?  What if limb difference kids could forge relationships with people who look like them, who have stories that mirror theirs?  And so, we went.

Zeke had a blast.  He was about ten paces ahead of us every single moment of every single day, racing to get to the next thing.  The second day, he ate half of his breakfast, looked up and said, "I ate half.  Can we go now?"  I think he just basked in seeing so many people who had limb differences.  (I think there were like 140 campers plus 60 coaches.  Not all the coaches had limb differences but I'd say at least 75% of them did.)  As a mom, my heart was blessed by the normalcy of it.  Any new situation means that Zeke is almost instantly greeted by the question, "What happened to your hands?"  Not this time.  Not once did someone ask him that.  Not once.

Thursday was a kick off day, with swimming, golf, archery, and fishing for those who wanted to do those things.  I swear Zeke could have fished all day.  He also won a fishing pole in the ice breaker game.  Best of all, Zeke jumped off the diving board during the swimming session, for the first time ever, and swam to the side of the pool all by himself.

Friday morning started with an opening ceremony featuring a parade of all the campers and coaches.  I loved seeing the campers and coaches grouped by location, to see the variety of regions, personalities, and limb differences represented.  Here's our video footage of it.  It's kind of long but I think it's worth watching.

For Friday and Saturday, the kids were asked to pick a focus sport, one that they would get to do repeatedly.  He picked wrestling.  They also had four open sports sessions, where they could sign up for another sport and learn more about it.  For his open sports sessions, he picked football, basketball, swimming, and soccer.  Zeke played all day long for two days straight.  I'd share the photo of him passed out at the hotel but he'd be quite grumpy at me for sharing a pic of his undies.

Some of the other highlights for me as a mom were hearing repeatedly that our kids were created perfectly.  Not because I don't believe that but because I think Zeke has his moments of doubt in regards to that.  I also really appreciated what one of the wrestling coaches said.  Harry is from England.  He shared a bit about how there isn't anything like this in England, that disabilities are viewed so differently there.   He shared how up until last year, his first year at camp, as a 20 something adult, he was unable to tie his shoe.  But another coach at camp helped him learn how, at camp.  Hearing him admit that as an adult, he was still learning was such a good thing.  He also shared how he had never in his life met another person who had a hand like his until this camp when he met two kids who matched his hand.  Again, I think that's a valuable thing to hear, that we all long to "fit in" to a group like that.

Enjoy the pics!

Before the opening ceremonies, sitting with the Nebraska delegation.
The boy in the yellow was actually a Montana kid and we're missing one kid but I thought this photo was perfect.
Three big boys messing around and Zeke messing with the flag.
It also really captures the way that the campers relate to each other.
So many do know each other from years of attending but others are meeting for the first time.
I loved seeing the big kids interact with the little ones.

Wrestling practice begins
The coach in the middle is actually a former camper who is now a high school wrestler.
I think that model of kids becoming coaches is amazing.

Wrestling with Ninja Warrior and WWE wrestler Zack Gowen

Mid day on Saturday was the shoe tying session
Every camper was to find a coach who looked most like them.
If they didn't know how to tie shoes, then they were to practice.
If they already knew how, then they were to be a coach.
Lower limb difference campers went to a session on prosthetics.
Zeke's working with Zach Hodskins, current Florida Gator basketball player.

Waiting in line for a soccer drill

Wish I had taped this so you could hear the noise.
Zeke spent most of his time in wrestling like this.
Or on his back being pinned.
But either way, he was giggling pretty much the whole time.

For basketball, they separated them by ages.
Zeke got stuck in a group of 5 year old girls.
He was not amused.

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