Jack’s First Time at Winter Camp


Jack was born with a heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome to be exact. Essentially he was born with only half of a functioning heart. I’m collecting all my thoughts, heartaches, hopes, and pictures and plan to share soon.

Anyway, there is a local non-profit that fundraises all year to send all the “heart kids” to camp, both in the winter and the summer. Yes, we help pay a small fee, but the majority has been provided as a donation. It is so amazing he gets to meet other heart kids like him, enjoy being a kid in a safe and medically staffed environment, and just be a kid!

He went to summer day camp last year; read more here.

This year was the first year, we all decided he (and mom) were ready for overnight camp. Winter camp is just 2 days and 2 nights and just a short jaunt from our house; I knew it would be the perfect test to see if he was ready for summer camp. Summer camp is 6 nights, 7 days, and a few hours from home. Thankfully almost everything went perfectly!

Like most camps, they provide a very detailed list of everything needed for the weekend. Jack was extra prepared, because that’s me for ya. My mom also volunteered to keep me company and help with Harv, just in case (it was a lot of driving and he still isn’t besties with that car seat yet). So Jack, Harvey, and I picked up my mom and headed out.

camp building HLHS

When we arrived Jack chatted with his nurse, we both answered some medical questions, then we brought his stuff to his bunk and off we went. It was so simple and I knew if I stayed any longer it wouldn’t have been good for either of us. He seemed ok, so off we went.

Jack HLHS Camp
We stayed long enough for one pic!…glad it was a good one!

Monday rolled around and I went to pick him up myself. Caleb was home with the other kids and we both decided it was just easiest if I went alone. My mom offered again to drive with, but we had things to do in the morning and I knew my timeline was squished enough already as it was.

It was a long quiet car ride. I ain’t complaining. That never happens.

I arrived a few minutes later than I wanted to, but still in the perfect arrival time window. After a few goodbyes, checking out with his nurse, and grabbing his belongings we were headed home.

The car ride back was anything BUT quiet. That boy was so excited to spill the beans on everything he did. It made my heart so happy!

He played gaga ball (still clueless what that is), basketball, arts and crafts, met sled dogs, ate all the camp food (apparently Caleb and I could use some pointers – insert eye roll), made tons of friends (With teenage girls! Say what?!) and says he can’t wait to go back.

There is also this sweet girl Elizabeth who has gone to day camp with Jack for 2 years now and attended Winter Camp. She is absolutely adorable and sweet and has the nicest Mom. I’ve tried to convince Jack they should be buddies, you know futuristic thinking on my part. He’s uninterested. Probably best…. for now.

They also sing the sweetest heart song all camp about having a heart deeper than people can see. You sure do little buddy, you sure do!

The only hiccup all weekend, was when we arrived back home and I asked him to clean out his duffle bag and put his dirty clothes in the laundry. He discovered his dirty clothes bag had gone missing! Yep lost, somewhere. We’ve contacted everyone we could and the.clothes.are.gone. My guess is the garbage by now. Ha. Next time I’ll remind him to put the bag BACK into the duffle at the end of camp. Could’ve been worse. Much much worse.

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures of him at camp taken by the camp staff:

Kids playing sports HLHS
Those are two doctors holding/supporting him and I cropped out the team of nurses in the background. Ha. Safest game of basketball ever.
Jack backpacking HLHS
He was acting as the pack was actually empty. Go figure.
Camp for kids with HLHS
Camp counselor (aka nurse) with Jack and bunk mate.


Do your kids do summer camp? Or any type of sleep away camp? Heck, do they return home from sleepovers with all their belongings!? Please tell me I’m not alone in that one.

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