Camping was one of Claudia Drummond’s greatest childhood memories, so she’s thrilled both her kids are able to enjoy the experience, too.
With her youngest daughter, that wasn’t always a sure thing.
Jazlynn Drummond, 8, has special needs, yet she has twice been to Zajac Ranch for Children at Stave Lake, near Mission.
The camp is a special place for all kids, including Jazzy’s older sister, Alex, who just turned 12.
The Sullivan-area sisters were excited to attend the camp last summer, and they returned there a couple of weeks ago.
“Last year it was Jazzy’s first time away from home overnight, ever,” Claudia explained. “We were worried, so that’s why we wanted her sister to go with her, which they allowed, thankfully.”
Jazzy had a great time, it turns out, and her parents, Claudia and Keith, are thankful for the opportunity.
“She’s with me or her dad all the time, so she never gets to build that sense of independence at all,” Claudia said. “When she goes to this camp, she does things like ride a horse, and was so proud of herself. You know, ‘Mommy, mommy! I rode a horse!’ Every kid needs that sense of accomplishment and independence. She did it, and didn’t need help.”
Every year at this time, Zajac Ranch for Children benefits from White Spot’s Pirate Pak Day. On Wednesday (Aug. 15) at 65 of the chain’s restaurants in B.C. and Alberta, $2 from the sale of every Pirate Pak will be donated to the organization that runs the camp, a getaway for kids and young adults with life-threatening illnesses and chronic disabilities.
Jazzy lives with a genetic disorder called Noonan syndrome, which involves heart defects, bleeding disorders, developmental delays and malformations of the rib cage.
”It’s the most common syndrome people have never heard of — that’s it’s official designation,” Claudia said.
“It’s not very well known. there are different strains of it, and with eating, she (Jazzy) can’t eat orally at all, and most of the kids can by this age. So far, her heart has been really good, luckily. There are different severities of it.”
The Drummond family is featured in a 90-second “Camper Spotlight” video produced by Zajac Ranch for Children.
“It can be challenging to be her caretaker — you don’t get a lot of sleep — so I was more concerned how the staff would do, I was not concerned about her at all,” Claudia says in the video.
“It’s well known, and they have a lot of experience dealing with kids with special needs, and after talking to the staff when we dropped them off, you know, they knew exactly what to do when I gave them the rundown.”
Dad Keith, who built a train that transports campers to and from the lake, echoed his wife’s thoughts.
“Being here with her, which is not an opportunity every parent gets to do, I’ve seen her ride the horses and go in the kayak and canoe and whatnot, and do things she normally would say no to — ‘I don’t want to do it’ — and I think because the other kids are here supporting her, and the staff especially, she did these things,” Keith says in the video.
“She was shooting a bow, you know, which she’d never do before, so yeah, it gave her the opportunity to do things with other children, you know, that she normally says, ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’”
To date, White Spot has raised more than $660,000 for Zajac Ranch for Children and sent more than 400 kids to camp, the Vancouver-based company says.
This is the ninth year of Pirate Pak Day, which includes an “Adult” version of the popular meal for kids.
Claudia said the Drummond family loves going to restaurants such as White Spot, despite Jazzy’s eating concerns.
“The thing with Jazzy, sometimes it’s challenging to go eat at a restaurant, but she wants to be included and participate in all the fun stuff her sister gets to do,” her mom noted. “If her sister gets a Pirate Pak, she’ll want the boat, too, and all the toys or whatever, just not the food. It’s challenging for her but we do take her out to restaurants and she can colour in the colouring books and still be involved that way.”