Harbor Haven

Summer is almost here, and schools are finishing up their school year. Not only that, camp season coming up. In summer of 2006, I started attending a camp near my house called, “Harbor Haven”; Harbor Haven was a camp for children with disabilities from the NJ and NY area. I attended this camp for four summers!

Every year that I attended camp, my grandparents drove me, since it was close to my house; My camp was literally five minutes away from my house that I always passed by it general. In addition, I was always put into an assigned group with a nice, camp counselor each year for camp. The girls in my camp group were: Gabby, Daniella, Ashlee, and Jenny. They were all so nice to me, and we always had good laughs whenever we chatted in our lunch time. We always had fun times together overall, one summer after another. I always looked forward to camp every summer because I was going to be with my group of camp friends. As you can see, I loved my group of camp friends!

Furthermore, I loved the activities the camp provided every summer. I followed a schedule everyday about the activities I would be participating in with my camp group, whether be academic work (ex: math skills time), life skills (ex: cooking), or sports (ex: Karate); This camp supported academic skills, social-emotional skills, and life skills for all of their campers with disabilities. Plus, I was provided with a schedule to have at home, and my camp counselor always held onto a binder with the camp group schedule. It was always helpful to have a visual schedule of my summer because I got to see what fun activities I would be doing in camp each day. One of my favorites about camp was the field trips that the camp went to on every Friday. For example, I remember going to a huge, Tennis complex, to learn to play tennis. Another one of my favorites were having inflatables every other week; The inflatables were like obstacle courses to me, so I always had a blast on them, racing against my camp friends. I cannot forget about going swimming in the pools almost everyday at camp; I loved that I got to go swimming when it was so hot out, and even on rainy days. In all, I loved going to Harbor Haven!

In Art time with camp friends: Ashlee and Daniella

When I found out in 2009 that my camp was closing after that year’s summer season, I was devastated. I was heartbroken because I loved all of the memories I made in this camp. Since my camp closed, I lost contact with my group of camp friends. Every summer after camp closed, I was reminded about my camp memories, especially about my camp group friends. I even told to my group of best friends, which I mentioned about them in my last blog, about how much my camp group friends meant to me. I always wished I would get together with them one day again.

Almost 10 years later, and in 2017, my wish came true! I reconnected with a couple of my camp group friends: Daniella and Gabby! I was, and still forever thankful because they mean a lot to me. I couldn’t believe this happened in the same year; It was very interesting how I reconnected with them.

One day, in March of 2017, I was in one of my college classes at Brookdale Community College, which was about developing research skills; It was one of my academic classes that I took, which was provided by the disability services through my college. In the beginning of class, my professor was taking attendance, and I heard my professor call out one of the students in my class. My professor called out this student’s name: “Daniella Farras”. As soon as I heard that name, I was thinking that her name sounded very familiar. In the next, few, class sessions of this class, I was talking to this classmate because she seemed nice and everything. One day in this class, she mentioned to me that my name sounded familiar, but she was not sure from where. That moment made me realize something..

One, Saturday in March, I went through my memories box that I have in my room, and looked through my camp section of my box, from pictures to other stuff. By the following class session and during our break, I showed Daniella a picture from when I was in camp; The picture was me and one of my camp friends, which I believed it was her. As soon as she saw my picture, she looked at me as if she knew something was familiar. Then, with a happy, surprise look, she said, “OMG, I do remember! You look so different now than from back then!” From that moment on, we caught up on a lot from the years that we weren’t together in person. We have been connected online and have been hanging out since.

Daniella and I at my 21st birthday celebration!

After being reunited with Daniella, in a class at Brookdale Community College, this helped me reconnect with another camp, group friend, Gabby. On April 2nd, 2017, I was chilling at home and was checking up on my social media accounts. I decided to search up Gabby because Daniella shared with me that they are connected online. Based on Daniella, which I was friends with online by then, I found Gabby. I reached out to her via message with a picture of us. After I messaged and shared the picture of us, Gabby responded back saying, “Yes, I do remember you. How are you!? It’s been so long”. We chatted for hours that day! Eventually, we decided we wanted to see each other because we thought it would be amazing to be together in person again. Since I am from NJ, and she is from Staten Island, it took some time to plan out a good day for us to be together. On August 26th, 2017, we reunited in person at my house. When that day came, I was kinda nervous at first because I was not sure how our reunion would turn out. It turned out better than I expected! Today, we have been connected online and hanging out since.

August 26th, 2017: Gabby and I reunited at my house!

I am so thankful I went to Harbor Haven as my camp. I developed on various skills, while gaining my own camp experiences. The best part for me was having a group of camp friends, in which a couple of them, I am connected with today! If you want to check out Harbor Haven’s website, please click on this link: https://www.harborhaven.com

Daniella, Gabby, & I together for my 21st birthday celebration!

Published by Exceptional Shell

My name is Michelle. Follow my journey on life with Autism.

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