Welcome to the 3rd Annual Handstands for Goals camp held in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve mentioned this camp previously as the Red Devils Soccer Camp and it looks like the name has changed, but the spirit and goals of the camp are the same. Our boys have been to all three camps, from the first camp that got us to take the leap and sign them up for soccer, to the camp last year that gave them more confidence and skills training.
The great thing about this camp is that the coordinators have made programs for kids across the spectrum. The coordinators of the camp work closely with a nearby school for kids on the spectrum and have done a fantastic job structuring the camp in a way that autistic kids can learn and grow, but also have the flexibility that most of our kids need. This year, we were surprised at the turnout – the volunteers were out in force from the Handstand for Goals Group and the Red Devils SLC Youth Teams, Leo from Real Salt Lake stopped by, and Swoop was also there with the University of Utah Soccer Team.
I watched one child in particular as he started to go through sensory overload and you could see he was scared and overwhelmed by everything going on. However, one of the mascots came and gave the kid a big hug and just held him until the child calmed down. I watch as the head coach from the Utes Soccer Team walked over to Michelle (the main coordinator) and kept thanking her over and over for having his team come to the camp, and I watch as grateful parents leave with their kids beaming and on top of the world.
All of this started thanks to a few people who decided they wanted to make a difference. . . . . . and they sure have. My boys LOVE soccer and they’ve been on a local team with the same 10 kids for the past three years – it’s been such a neat experience for us and something we wouldn’t have fathomed we could do three years ago. Actually, in our game yesterday, both boys successfully did a stop on the ball with a backwards roll. Twin A scored our first goal of the season and Twin B played goalie for a quarter. . . .even though he didn’t touch the ball once (we played some stellar defense), to see him try and do something different was rewarding.
Also, as a result of the camp, the Utes Soccer Team will also host a special one-day soccer camp for autistic kids tomorrow and all the participants will walk on the field with the teams prior to their home game against Boise State on Friday, August 29th. It’s so neat to see the lives this camp has touched, and how the influence of this camp has now spread into other teams and organizations. If you have the opportunity, please think of sending your child! It’s one of the highlights of our year and I am extremely grateful for this camp and what it’s done for our family.