First Escape Reflections
The idea was just that for the past year. It was a concept that my own life as a special needs mom inspired me to make a reality. It was a lot harder to make it all come together than I ever imagined. But let me tell you, it was worth all of the effort.
Our first trip – a cruise out of Tampa, FL – began on October 13 and I brought along plenty of anticipation in addition to my luggage. The planning I had put into this initial trip spanned across several months and I desperately hoped that as my concept became a reality, it lived up to everything I had imagined it would be. In many ways, it exceeded what I had envisioned.
Our group consisted of four families, three therapists, and two mission ambassadors. And of course, my own family. Everyone fit right in with one another. The support for the families from not just the therapists, but from one family to another was amazing and honestly, beyond my expectations at times. Our three therapists were ready and willing to lend a hand breaking down wheelchairs or just being an extra set of hands to care for the kids so that the parents and other caregivers had a little bit of break. And families were there for each other in those ways and in an emotionally supportive way as well. I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the way the Carnival staff went above and beyond on a number of occasions. They truly contributed to an amazing vacation for these special families.
We had a couple mornings of therapy time for the kids. One of the best things about those times was seeing the siblings get involved – something that doesn’t always happen in normal therapy settings. We also had a couple of fun activities for the entire family after each therapy morning.
We were lucky to have a therapist in our group who is also a yoga instructor, so our parents and other family members were able to have a yoga session one morning while their children were being cared for by a therapist or another family member. This time for themselves was so treasured!
At our ports of call – Grand Cayman and Cozumel – we enjoyed a beach day and went to a museum park where we learned about some of Mexico’s rich history. There was plenty of unplanned fun in between all of that as well. You can see just how much fun everyone had in the many photos and videos we have from the trip.
An Experience Beyond Just Fun
While there was so much fun had over the five days of our trip, the whole experience was more than that for every single member of the family. Multiple people shared with me that the support everyone provided one another really was crucial in helping them enjoy the trip. There were friendships forged among the families and therapists that will long outlive our five-day cruise.
That additional benefit of the experience is what I always hoped for. That’s the Enriching part of the Escape. It goes beyond the actual vacation and the moments that take place over the course of it. It’s what makes the vacation meaningful and rewarding for every member of the families that take part in an Enriching Escape. As I begin to plan our next trip, I can only hope that it is just as gratifying for the families that participate.