Lifelong memories from Camp Easter Seals circa 1980s

David Hamrick

David Hamrick

Today, guest blogger David Hamrick shares his memories of Easterseals camp in the 1980s.  Now an adult with autism, David has been a longtime friend of Easterseals, most recently participating in our social media series about love, dating, relationships and disability in February. We hope you enjoy his trip down memory lane as much as we did.

I had the privilege of attending Camp Easter Seals when I was a young kid back in the late 1980s.  Most of my visits were at the Eastern Virginia facility just northeast of Richmond, and these were either weekend stays during the school year or full-week stays during the summer.

Camp Easter Seals was the place for many important childhood memories.  One of the most important was coming to learn of my diagnosis of autism.  While I was at the eastern Virginia facility, I was wondering why everybody else there seemed to be either in a wheelchair or have some type of disability.  I asked why everyone there had a disability of some kind and I did not, and it was at this time that I was made aware that I have autism, and that is how I was eligible to attend Camp Easter Seals.  I then seemed to fit in better with the rest of the attendees.

During one of my week-long visits, I started becoming very homesick and wanted to talk to my parents back in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Since we were not permitted to use the office phones for this purpose, as an eight-year-old, I figured out how to use the pay phone and call my parents collect, which really impressed them.  The weekend visits were not as hard on me in that regard.

In addition to what I have described above, I have some additional fond memories of my trips there.  I remember really liking the camp counselor on my very first stay there, and I loved playing with her long hair.  She had this really large textbook that I wanted to read, and she was nice enough to let me read it.  She also took me outside at night to listen to the frogs chirping away in the woods.

Another thing I liked in addition to long hair, at the time, were shoulder blades. A couple of the camp counselors allowed me to rest my head on their upper back where the shoulder blades are.  If you are wondering, this was one of my autistic special interests at the time.

I also enjoyed all of the bonfires we had, the arts and crafts, and developing a good friendly relationship with the nurse there.

The thing I did not like was the mandatory rest period where we had to stay in our rooms for an hour during the middle of the day.  I got really bored since I did not take naps at that age.



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