GRANBY — Sam Hatten eagerly climbed the 55-foot ladder to the zip line at Adam’s Camp, as his family, some of whom had been afraid of the height, watched on in admiration.
“Sam’s willingness to scamper up that ladder really set an example for all of us. Even in activities like that, Sam is a leader among our family,” said his father, Ted Hatten.
Though his intrepidness might be deceiving, Sam was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome at birth. “When he came into our lives, there were a lot of questions. There was some grief because we had expectations for him that we had to let go,” Ted said. “When we did, we were able to move to a place where we could find his gifts and maximize them.”
At home, Sam’s family embraced his love for athletics and success in school. However, the Hattens struggled to find activities that were engaging for the entire family.
This changed when they began attending Adam’s Camp at Snow Mountain Ranch in Grand County. Adam’s Camp is a non-profit organization which provides specialized therapeutic programs for children with special needs and their families.
While at camp, Sam attends one-on-one therapy sessions while also participating in activities such as go-carting, archery, zip lining, miniature golf and boating with his peers and family.
The Hattens said they found Adam’s Camp to be a sanctuary for their family from the very first year.
“We were moved by the immediate comfortable connection between the campers, their siblings, their parents and the Adam’s Camp staff and volunteers,” Ted said.
After attending camp for three summers, the Hattens said they now view Adam’s Camp as a second home. Sam and his family attend each year. His parents have seen Sam grow after being able to interact and participate in activities with children who have special needs similar to his own.
“We’ve been watching his humor develop, and we’ve seen him express his compassion through his patience and willingness to converse with those campers who may be less communicative than him,” Ted said.
Sam’s one-on-one therapy is an outcome-based treatment that takes place over the five days at camp. At the end of camp, Sam’s parents meet with his therapist to receive a review Sam’s sessions.
“The last meeting is very important, as a family it allows us to learn important strategies that we can work on with his therapists at home,” Ted said.
Sam’s brothers said they enjoy Adam’s Camp, not only because they can support Sam, but also because they build relationships.
“They meet and connect with others who know how difficult it can be, but also how joy-filled it can be to have a sibling with special needs,” Ted said.
The positive relationships such as these, combined with the unique recreational camp experiences, makes Adam’s Camp an important getaway for the Hattens.
“We have so much gratitude for the support that comes in large and small ways at Adam’s Camp. This support contributes our positive experience that’s not only a fun vacation, but also significantly impactful in our lives,” Ted said. “Coming down Berthoud Pass this year, our oldest son said, ‘we are almost home.’”
For more information on Adam’s Camp at Snow Mountain Ranch, please visit: http://www.adamscamp.org/