Bridget recently won a trip to Great Wolf Lodge through a local disability group. In a million years we never would have planned the trip. One, the expense just would not be in our budget. Two, we never know if this type of thing would be something Bridget would enjoy or be tortured by. This would be the first theme-park type experience that Bridget would experience being mobile and not just hanging out in her chair.
Abby was beyond excited.
The check-in at the Lodge was beyond easy. The front desk engaged with Bridget, gave us a brief overview of the resort. We did a quick wardrobe change and headed to Abby’s main attraction: the wave pool.
It scared the crap out of me. Would it scare Bridget? Would she be safe? Would she drown? (Okay that last one was a bit extreme). Walking in to the area the pool monitor showed us where the complimentary towels were located (“help yourself to as many as you need!”) and most importantly: the life jackets. They offered to help us fit the jacket to Bridget’s petite form. Bridget ran into the pool and found nirvana.
She loved it. The waves could not be big enough, as she floated in her life jacket. We transitioned to the Lazy River, where she promptly fell through the float. It didn’t matter. She just cruised with the current in her trusty jacket. “I SWIMMING!!!” She excitedly told every life guard she zipped by.
We started to get chilled, so we headed back to the room. In the main lobby story time was beginning. Bridget plopped her bum down and attended to the story. She listened and sat quietly. She was just a girl listening to a story.
The next day we returned to the wave pool. As we passed the lobby, Bridget sat down not realizing it wasn’t story time. The staff were beyond kind. They told us when to return (there are multiple story times). Halfway through the day this mother was beyond chilled and done with the pool. David & Abby wanted to do the ropes course. Bridget and I were walking through the lobby when craft time started.
She did a craft.
On her own.
Then a dance party started. She danced like it was 1999. Bridget went up to the staff member and grabbed her hand. The girl danced with Bridget like she was the most important girl in the room. When Frozen began playing they took out a mic. Although Bridget wouldn’t sing with the mic, she held the staff members hand and belted out the words she knew to “Let it go!”
Afterwards story time began again. Bridget sat quietly and was so attentive. She remembered parts of the story. At the end of the story the character came out. Bridget was nervous. She waited on the sidelines. The characters waited silently. The female wolf held out her hand. And waited. Knelt down to Bridget’s level. And waited. They didn’t care that there was a line. They just waited for Bridget to come to them.
And she did.
“Soft”, she whispered as she touched the wolf’s hand.
“Thank you”, she whispered as she hugged the wolf.
Thank you, to the staff members of Great Wolf who had no idea that Bridget was there as part of a disability group. To each staff member who treated Bridget with kindness and patience. The final morning as we went to check out, Bridget once again sat down for story time. A staff member was kind as they explained she had missed it.
“I be back” she told him.
I bet she will, my heart silently confirmed.
Disclaimer: Bridget won the trip through a grant at the Kennedy-Donovan Center a 501(c)3 that supports people with developmental delays, disabilities or family challenges to pursue their personal potential and success in the community. Great Wolf Lodge has no idea that I am writing about our experience. To be honest, I will say that originally I believed it was an expense beyond most families (and definitely ours) financial capabilities. However, the resort is truly wonderful. As far as expense, after further research it isn’t much more expensive than going to a theme park for a day. Except you get a hotel room, an adventure course and two pool areas to enjoy. We did not participate in the arcade, however we did dine at the resort and the prices were not that unreasonable. At the Fitchburg, MA location there is a Dunkin Donuts that charges the same prices as our local D&D. The only thing I would recommend is that they expand it or add a second location for the morning hours on the weekend. I would advise Great Wolf to have the automated story time happen more often. The kids loved it and did not care that the story was unchanged.
As I am completely uncompensated and forever honest, I will tell you that I was beyond impressed with the resort. Every staff member treated Bridget with respect and kindness. Bridget has woken up every morning asking to saying: We go wave pool! She was able to tell about her weekend to multiple people.
This mom cannot ask for more.
She can only thank the Kennedy Donovan Center for giving her daughter a weekend to just be a girl waiting for story time.