This article appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Abilities Digest
Mid-March in the Florida Keys – when the weather is a balmy 75° and the breezes are blowing to keep the heat away; the sun rises and sets over the horizon with a beauty that eternally astounds us…
This was only part of the experience our families had at Camp Jackson Sawyer, Sea Base in the Florida Keys, March 21 – April 1.
Add some kids, and some family members, minus the dog, couple that with excited giggles and expectant faces, regardless of how big or small. “I want to swim with the dolphins!” was Katelyn’s mantra even before she actually got to do it at the Dolphin Research Center. “I like science and fishing. I make my own lures!” noted Gabriel, a perfect combination for where he’s at. The sunrises are always superb, and the fish are jumpin’ there in the tide pools (well, sort of).
Some families came all the way from the northern part of the country where the temps were freezing. Never mind that this experience was their very first ride on an airplane. They arrived to temperatures in the 70s, sunny and much warmer than where they came from. And the ocean! They had never seen the ocean, and there it was in all its splendor in front of them, every morning when they woke up and every evening when they settled in for the night. Life changing experiences for these folks. Oh…did I mention special needs and disabilities? Right, you figured right. Most of the youth had one issue or another, but it never stopped their exploring, learning, growing, and enjoying the sea/camping life. With tents pitched or glamping tents occupied, the participants at the Family Adventure Camp were ready and willing to have… well, adventures!
There was slow growing star and brain coral to look at and learn about at the Brinton Environmental Center (BEC) Coral Nursery. There were kayaks to fill and tide pool life to discover, new foods (real Florida Key Lime pie), new sights (dolphins swimming alongside the cruise boat), the beauty of synchronized fishing by three pelicans, a fort on a tiny island, a luau with music and dancing. The night sky was on view when the Southern Cross Astronomical Society joined the Keys Experience families to share their time and love of the universe. Looking through the optic eyepiece of one of three telescopes, one could view the inky black sky dappled with soft white lights; streaks of colors amongst shades of gray. It was so inspiring, it left one with brain freeze from the sheer vastness of the cosmos! It was overheard from one Scout that he never felt so very small.
The Keys Family Adventure Camp at Camp Jackson Sawyer, the Florida Keys, 2023 is coming! Be there!
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