Jayen, 8, loves camping and being outdoors. For his wish, he specifically asked to have “a camper with bunk beds and a basketball hoop” so he can go on fun trips this summer!
“When we go camping as a family, Jayen is a completely different kid,” said his mom, Nicole. “He doesn’t usually talk much, but being outdoors, together, makes him more verbal and outgoing and changes his outlook on life.”
Camping has been a great outlet for Jayen, who had his first seizure when he was 4 months old and goes to speech and occupational therapy every day after school.
“I think he loves camping so much because it means time away from his daily routine,” Nicole continued. “Sometimes Jayen feels like he’s missing out on things with all his treatments, but in the wilderness, there are no doctors or therapy, and he gets to escape and be a kid.”
And, while they tried to go regularly, camping wasn’t an easy vacation for Jayen’s family.
“Jayen is no longer able to sweat after one form of medication he was taking, so we weren’t able to go camping in a tent anymore, especially in the summer,” she said. “Growing up, camping as a family had become such a powerful memory for Jayen that when we found out his wish to have a camper was possible, he was so excited!”
In preparation for his wish, Jayen’s family received helpful camping accessories like a lantern, binoculars and a set of sticks to roast marshmallows. Then on the day of the reveal, Nicole invited family and friends to come into town to see Jayen’s reaction to his new camper.
“We came around the side of the house and when Jayen saw the camper, he immediately hid behind us because he was so shocked and overwhelmed,” said Nicole. “He saw the basketball hoop first and ran toward it and just stared at it in awe for 10 minutes.”
“The first night, we were all so excited we slept in the camper while it was parked outside of our house!” she continued. “It’s become Jayen’s home away from home during his treatment. Now, even if we don’t have time to travel, he can get away and have a mini-vacation right in our driveway any day he wants.”
So far, Nicole and her family have used Jayen’s camper almost every weekend since his wish was granted.
“We had family in town two weeks later and over Memorial Day Weekend, we took the camper up to Williams for a few days,” she said. “We hope to use it as much as possible over the summer.”
Jayen also has experienced good news with his health. Doctors successfully removed four parts of his brain connected to his seizures and, as of November 2014, Jayen is seizure-free.
“It’s such a blessing but Jayen has multiple conditions where he will face a lot of obstacles and he still continues to go through so much. I’m so thankful this wish can give Jayen a break when life gets tough,” said Nicole. “It’s a priceless opportunity that has brought our family together and has given Jayen such joy.”