United Way of Story County: All Aboard for Kids Impact Story

The Taintor family enrolled their son, Joshua, in our program for the first time this summer. Here is their story!

While summers are a season of joyful anticipation for many kids and families, for our son Joshua and our family, we tend to find them more anxiety-producing than the normal rhythm and routine of the school year. Upon hearing of All Aboard for Kids and having all of our individual pertinent questions answered by Lisa, we thought it sounded like a great option to structure the beginning of the summer for our middle son, Joshua.

Joshua was adopted into our family out of foster care at the age of four.  Now at age 13, and having spent over half of his life with his forever family, he is still in need of a highly structured and nurturing environment that expresses to him ‘You are safe.’, ‘I see you.’ and ‘You belong.”  All Aboard for Kids provided exactly that.

There are many things I could say about this program, but here are a few highlights. In our experience the staff was attentive to our concerns. They followed through with the level of care promised. They were ALWAYS excited to see Josh. They were knowledgeable and able to meet Joshua’s unique needs. They  heard, saw, and enjoyed their time with Josh. They maintained a positive and safe environment for all of the campers. And, last but perhaps most important to our son, the other campers were welcoming and accepting.

Joshua may never be able to attend traditional overnight camps like his brothers, but All Aboard exceeded his expectations for fun, adventure, autonomy from his family,  belonging, connection with peers and authentic mentor relationships.

As we were leaving camp on the last day, Josh was uncharacteristically quiet and downcast. I asked him what he was thinking and he said, “I finally feel like I belong and now I have to wait a whole year to come back.” And then he asked me, “Next year can I miss the Eagle Lake trip (our annual weeklong extended family reunion) so I can do all four weeks of All Aboard?”

Tess Taintor, Joshua’s Mom

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