Wheelchair Sports Camp: Reflection

My team: The Green Machine. GO GREEN!

Sports Camp is awesome. Especially when you go to a camp with people who have things in common with you . That is what Idaho Youth Wheelchair Sports Camp is all about.

From the sound of the title, the camp consists of disabled people who use wheelchairs, walkers and/or other assistive technology… But wait a sec! How the heck can a disabled person play sports? The short answer: determination.

We play Wheelchair Soccer, Tennis, Rugby, Basketball, Baseball,  Track Events, and a ton of other awesome activities that not many think we  can do. The sports we play may not be exactly the same as normal sports, but we are just as competitive as our able-bodied peers. When humans get in their heads they want to do something, they always find a way to make it work.

This year, unfortunately, was my last (I finally had reached the age limit.). I had participated  four times over the last 5 or 6 years, and was determined to make 2012 the best year I’d ever had.

In years past during sports, especially Wheelchair Soccer, I was one of the most competitive campers. The goal I had  for camp this year was not to dominate in every sport, but rather my goal was to just to do my best, and to have fun.

And help others make goals.

There were a lot of 8 year-olds at the camp this year. Seeing these kids I remembered being in a wheelchair at they’re age. I remembered that at that age I wish I had older guys in wheelchairs I could talk to. Helping the kids do well was worth every minute. In Wheelchair Soccer, I showed them how to block. I showed them how to score. Seeing their normally sad eyes light up with excitement and hope felt good. I don’t want these kids to feel pity for themselves, and I don’t want them to feel alone like I did.

I want them to be like every other active 8 year-old boy.The disabled need to be empowered like everyone else, not pitied. These kids have inspired me to come back as a Jr. Coach and help out.

I also spoke to the Coaches a lot this year. 90% of the Coaches at the camp are disabled, and are all adults, young and old. Like old war veterans, we shared stories of our experiences. One of the Coaches (Ironically she was a few months older than me.) told me that after the car crash that paralyzed her she had to have a trach put in. Thus, we spoke at length about trachs. She is the first person I’d ever personally known who had a trach tube before. After getting to know her, I’m pretty sure we’ll be good friends. 🙂

Another Coach I spoke to was also paralyzed. He happened to be a big fan of Epic Fantasy, and we were fans of a lot of the same writers. He also told me he wrote a Fantasy novel, and hadn’t revised it for a while. He came up to me later in the week after he had looked at my blogs, and told me he was inspired to start writing again. So now I have another critique partner! How cool is that?

I never would have made all of these connections without IYWSC. I thank all of the Campers, Volunteers, Coaches and the Boise Parks & Rec for the amazing final year of camp.

You have all made me a better person. God bless. 🙂



  1. Jake, it has been a long time since I have talked w/ your parents, but your name came across the prayer chain a few times this month & then your blog . . . so here I am. You are a great inspiration – I love your spirit. I don’t know if you are a ware that my son, JoJo, has CP and uses a walker or wheelchair for mobility. I wonder if this camp would be a good fit for him? You make it sound incredible. JoJo does many neat things, like rides horses, rides a bike, and loves to learn new languages and math. I am always looking for the “next neat thing” for him. Here is my tip for you – have you ever heard of camp attitude? I learned about it from a gal at BBC last year. We went this summer. It is a Christian camp for “special needs families” – the whole family gets to go to camp and experience a wonderful week of camp activities together. It is in Foster, Oregon, near Sweet Home. Google it . . . . Glad to see you are doing well – take care – email me or FB me if you have some thoughts about wheelchair camp for JoJo.

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