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from Sumer 1997 issue

My trip to Camp John Marc

by Sareth Garcia, Parent, Edinburg, Texas

On October 11, 1996, my son Omar (who is visually impaired), his grandparents and I drove in a car to the city of Meridian, Texas. We were very happy because we knew we would see people we knew at the camp. We were also eager to make new friendships. However, this delight was short-lived. As we passed the city of Pleasanton, close to San Antonio, my car's brakes went out and I could not move it to either side; nor would it accelerate. Our car was stranded on the side of the road. Immediately, we were fortunate to have a person take us to the next gasoline station nearby where there was a mechanic. There we spent 4 hours. They could not fix the car, but we were lucky to find a car rental agency that was able to pick us at the mechanic shop. We rented a van, all headed back to San Antonio, and immediately returned for our things. So great was the urgency to arrive in Meridian that we were willing to leave the car on the side of the road, stranded, (even though it was securely locked and parked) for the initial reason we set out.

At 10:00 p.m. we arrived in New Braunfels so we stopped to eat a hamburger, but my mother was preoccupied about the car. For this reason, we decided to call my sister who lives in McAllen. We explained what had happened and asked if her husband, who is a mechanic, could pick us up in a wrecker. They were distressed because they did not want the car to be stranded as it could easily be stolen.

I had decided to continue the trip, but something inside of me was telling me to return; so we did. I remember we accelerated up to 75 on the speedometer so we arrived quickly in San Antonio. When we arrived to where the car was, we decided to stay to wait for my sister since we were expecting to meet her, at the most three hours later. I was anxious to start the trip all over again even if it would be at 3:00 a.m. As we waited it seemed that there were fewer cars passing by. At 2:00 a.m. a policeman arrived and asked if we were okay. We said we were; so he left. We continued to wait, but since it was cold my father decided to go to our car and bring a blanket. To our surprise, one of the windows was completely broken out! Someone had indeed tried to steal the car! We were very afraid from that point, but we were hoping that my sister would arrive. At that point, I became very sad because I was very eager to arrive. Well, my sister never arrived so we finally decided to call for a wrecker and leave the car at the next gas station.

At 11:00 a.m., we started the trip all over. Arriving at 4:00 p.m., it was a good feeling to be welcomed. They immediately showed us to our cabin and the dining room. There I was separated from my little Omar. Let me tell you that at this camp, they take good care of the children and their siblings. Believe me when I say that I had never left Omar except with his grandparents. But the camp staff gained my confidence and trust so that he did not sleep with me for two nights! This was a great break for me.

Now let me tell you about the camp. The same night we arrived, we were immediately directed to the General Membership Business Meeting where the Nominees for Board Positions were discussed. After that, there was an auction at 9:00 p.m which I did not attend, but my mother did. By this point, my legs were hurting from tiredness since I was not able to sleep one night and drove for almost two days.

The next day, we had breakfast and continued with the agenda. That morning a man whose name I do not remember, moved me with the songs he interpreted. So beautiful was the writing that I could not contain my emotions and I cried. The song made me think of my son. I was happy that I was not the only one moved, but I felt the need to calm myself as I felt I was being watched by some parents. The next session was given by an excellent person who is Kate Moss, with Gwen Solis. There I learned something new: "We as parents need to be aware of new developments that may benefit our child." I also remember that she said the following:

  1. I need to know the rights I have as a parent.
  2. Always be aware of the ARD.
  3. Take notes of everything that will affect my son.
  4. Take and make copies of the reports, including the recommendations I make as a mother.
  5. Verify what you sign, and be sure you receive a copy of it.
  6. There are places that can help improve the quality of life for our children:
    Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) 1-800-252-5204
    and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Outreach 1-800-TSB-KARE

We finally went to eat and packed our things. We left at 1:00 p.m. from Meridian, Texas. We arrived in San Antonio at about 7:00 p.m. and spent the night since it was Sunday and the car rental agency was closed. The next day, we decided to see the Alamo and the children's museum. None of us really wanted to go because we did not think that Omar would enjoy it. To our surprise, Omar wanted to be in every corner of the museum so that we were late in leaving 3 hours. From there we went on the Riverwalk and ate at the Plaza. I arrived in Edinburg very late and very tired, but the experience was unforgettable.

Very special thanks to Rose Shotts and to Kate Moss for giving me the opportunity to return to the camp. I wish that the parents that have not attended the camp, because they think they already know all there is to know or because they think they will be bored, will realize the opportunity their child is missing to be with other children. And for parents, there is the opportunity to learn something that will be beneficial to your child. I hope that you will take advantage of the next opportunity in October. Hasta la vista!

Editor's Note: If Sareth's letter doesn't inspire you to make an effort to attend the DBMAT Annual Family Conference, I'm not sure what will. This is the only statewide family organization for parents whose children are deafblind or visually impaired with additional disabilities. In its twenty-five years of existence, the parents in this organization have been instrumental in bringing about services to individuals with deafblindness in Texas. Like most organizations that have been around this long, they need more involvement from new members. Please go to DBMAT and get involved in the business meeting. This is your organization. Keep it growing!

Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT)
announces its
25th Annual Family Conference
October 10 - 12, 1997
Camp John Marc, Meridian, TX

For information or
to request a registration form,
DBMAT Headquarters
at (972) 287-1904

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from Sumer 1997 issue

Last Revision: July 30, 2002

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