5 Reflections from Church Camp Inclusion

Rachel & her buddy Alli. Alli just graduated. We will miss her at Olathe South during lunch at in student activities at church.
Rachel & her buddy Alli. Alli just graduated. We will miss her at Olathe South during lunch & in student activities at church.

As promised and as I most usually do, I want to share reflections from church camp last week. Primarily I’m going to share the week in pictures but a few points.

  1. Rachel is fully included with her church group and with others at Centrifuge. She is fully included at our church to begin with though. We moved here when Rachel was in 3rd grade. One young lady told me that she didn’t remember a time when Rachel wasn’t here.  No different from any of the rest of us. Deep friendships and relationships are often the result of life experienced together. Inclusion works.
  2. Rachel invited her friend to camp. Her friend had a stroke when she was little. She has some physical limitations and some cognitive delays,too. Students and adults stepped in and welcomed her, helped her & included her just like they would anyone else. Inclusion Works.
  3. The Centrifuge staff is awesome. More than half of them found me to tell me how much they loved Rachel. They also told me they love watching how our church’s students loved on Rachel and treated her just like everyone else. They were impressed with their level of encouragement and understanding of one another. So am I. One staffer told me her best friend back home has Down syndrome: Inclusion Works.
  4. My boy crazy girl found some very cute boys to talk with.  I cringed.  Just because they are church boys doesn’t mean they will be kind but these boys were. I was chatting with them one day and they said, “We have a good friend at our high school back home who has Down syndrome.” Inclusion works.
  5. We are all a work in progress. Adults can learn a lot from teenagers. Inclusion works.

Rachel & her buddy Hanna.

Rachel & her buddy Hanna.

Best Girls Ever: Fun Girls!
Best Girls Ever: Fun Girls!
Mia & Allie in action!
Mia & Allie in action!
Dad being contemplative?
Dad being contemplative?
What is dad doing?
What is dad doing?
Rachel's Bible Study Leader Tyler.  How does she always manage to get on stage?
Rachel’s Bible Study Leader Tyler. How does she always manage to get on stage?
Pie Night with my pie helpers. They only volunteer so they can eat pie I say.
Pie Night with my pie helpers. They only volunteer so they can eat pie I say.
Have to have great adults for great church camp.
Have to have great adults for great church camp.
Rachel's adult counselor Abbie. Kiersten's birthday pickles. Rachel loves Abbie and thinks she is cute!  Abbie is an Olathe South graduate too!
Rachel’s adult counselor Abbie. Kiersten’s birthday pickles. Rachel loves Abbie and thinks she is cute! Abbie is an Olathe South graduate too!
Students cheering friends.
Students cheering friends.
Rachel with her friend Justin. You may remember he was part of the double date adventure at WPA and DSG Prom!
Rachel with her friend Justin. You may remember he was part of the double date adventure at WPA and DSG Prom!
They call this pose "The Rachel."
They call this pose “The Rachel.”

My favorite text ever maybe. I have to admit that the one from Rep. Jenkins office that said “The President just signed the ABLE Act into law. Merry Christmas Jawanda.” That one ranks pretty high.

A message to Rachel from a friend. Inclusion works.
A message to Rachel from a friend. Inclusion works.
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2 comments

  1. My 15 year old tried the youth group at church, but she would not always stay put and do what the group was doing. Now there is a Special Buddies class where she is in with an adult that is slower than her. Looking forward to a Lions Camp in a couple weeks. How do I go about getting her included more?

    1. Heather – thank you for reading and commenting. I would really like to converse you more fully about this. Could you post your email address or send it to me in a private Facebook message. I think I’ll do a blog with some tips, too. Two immediate things come to mind here for me. One is to meet with the leadership (start with student minister if you have one or whoever is in charge of the student activities.) Talk with them openly about your desire for your daughter to be a part. This is not just for your daughter. It is for the other students. We learn from each other. I like to do some education of staff, teachers, etc, if at all possible. My next step would be to have them help you find peers who could be her buddy in the student events, students who would work to include her. You may need adults to help monitor in the beginning but before long, they students will do the work. You may want to do a peer presentation for the students too. Then, I would start having your daughter do to activities/class/etc. It may be that older youth would be the ones who would be her peer buddy/mentor in the student ministry. Kind of like school. Again – I would prefer to converse via email bt I hope this helps some.

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