What an incredible 4th First Light Family Camp we had! And the lessons, encouragement, and realizations keep coming. The families are there because they are first and foremost a military family. We are proud that we can be of support to them through Easter Seals Veterans Services, but more importantly, we are honored by the work they have done for our Country and the work they are doing for their families now. We were also really excited to have donors who wanted to ensure that all the children attending received a new bike. Who knew it would lead to some incredible revelations.
“First light is hopeful, beautiful, but it is also when you are at your most vulnerable.”
One family of four who attended with two children both of whom have disabilities, learned a new lesson. “Wow a bike! You think I can learn how to ride it?” Apparently, the children were never taught to ride… plenty of reasons, mostly protecting them – but the truth is it was just one more thing that made the children feel different adding to the list of disability, divorce, and military. One of the children after taking the first turn on learning to ride said, “This is going to make me feel really good.”
Another mom of a family attending reflected on her childhood memories of what a bike meant to her as a child, bottom line – freedom. “I think about my kids and the childhood they’re having now. They are not having the “normal” childhood I had. Maybe these bikes are going to help us ALL feel free again.”
“The Wish Float, when something spiritual becomes real.”
The Wish Float, a tradition at First Light it, is an emotional event, after a day of mental health focused break-out sessions, nighttime with the family and new friends, stars out, our flag lit up and campfire going. Everyone is asked to send out their wishes and hopes in a note with a candle into the darkness.
One family, enjoying the night realized one young adult child was off to the side on their own. Everyone assumed normal teen stuff. Turns out, a younger child with a disability from another family, being emotional, had reached out to the closest person for comfort, their young adult. And it turns out, that is all it took, the touch of a child for this family member to realize that they always needed to be there for their family, not just for the weekend, but for life.
Upon seeing the picture – Mom said, “I remember loving this moment! I felt like things were going to be truly o.k. with my kids.”
And that is what this Easter Seals Veteran Family Camp is all about. Being okay with yourself, and being present for your family.