BLIND OR SIGHTED, CAMPING MADE EASY
My son August Moon (Augie) has X-linked juvenile retinoschisis and is a kindergartner at J.J. Hill Montessori in St. Paul. Augie’s Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TBVI) introduced us to Louie McGee who has become a mentor and a friend. Louie enjoys camping and hiking, and believes that nature heightens our senses. He suggested that we try taking our boy on a family camping trip. I prepared my kids for this new activity by pitching tents in our backyard to be used as playhouses. The final night, I let Augie choose one tent we would try sleep in for the night. We slept together all night long there in our urban backyard, aware of the city noises and lights. His nervousness soon subsided so that sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent became a comfortable thing. We then camped in a Minnesota state park. What a treasure of easygoing beautiful campgrounds we have in our state! The first few nights, we were able to camp with the tarp off our tent. Without the tarp, the moon shines in. It allowed the breeze to bring in more fragrance and night sounds. My kids enjoyed the feel of swimming in a lake versus the pools they have grown accustomed to. Dipping into something so big was scary for them at first. Augie held onto my back as we went on adventures into the brown water but soon he and his sister were dunking and swimming around all by themselves. Again and again. They loved the lake. Just throwing little rocks into the lake was a wonder. The park rents canoes so my wife Erin and I would paddle out in a canoe each day to find new picnic spots that Augie would chose himself. We would then swim and fish in these secret places. Fishing reached a new level of enjoyment while we were camping. August Moon and his sister use kids-sized poles we picked up for $10 at Target. Now we often go down to the bank of the Mississippi by our home to fish together for maybe a half hour at a time, and there we talk about the next time we’ll go camping.
Jeff is an author, his novel levon a was published in April of 2016.
Jeff lives in Saint Paul with his wife Erin and two kids. The Radke family was one of the first connections after the launch of Louie’s Vision. They are an AWESOME family.