Accessibility · Adaptive Adventure · Adaptive Parenting (an adventure itself) · Through the Power of Sport

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Blog: “An Off Camber Kind of Life,” July 23, 2018

We LOVE the water in the summertime, and the rivers, lakes, and mountains of Northern New Hampshire literally provide us with everything we need for swimming, exploring, climbing, problem-solving, fishing, catching crawfish, building cairns or sandcastles– the essential skills of childhood summers spent in the outdoors. The thing is Daddy does not enjoy the water as much as we do because getting him TO the water is kind of a pain. Once he is in, he happily floats using his life jacket or noodle netting.

Recently, on a day off from work, we brainstormed as a family a summer activity we had not done yet– that ALL of us would enjoy, Daddy included. Lost River Gorge was discussed but “Daddy would struggle” with the stairs and cave-crawling. Then it occurred to us– what about mini golf? Other people had taken our kids mini golfing, but I had never; nor had I ever golfed with Geoff.

“What’s a few stairs? We’ve climbed mountains, babe. A few stairs at the Hobo Hills can’t be that terrible.” He shrugged his shoulders, and we loaded up the family car. Run by a local family of really good people, the Hobo Hills Adventure Golf is not misleading at all in its name. We understood the challenges ahead and were willing to assume them. In fact, the very name doesn’t even include the word “mini” in regard to golf; instead, the adjective used is “adventure” golf, and an adventure is what we had.

When we picked out our ball color and clubs, I joked with the young men working behind the counter, both high school students of mine, “Now, I haven’t been here in a long time, at least a decade, but there aren’t a lot of stairs here, right.” I should have known when they glanced at each other and sighed.

“Well, there are quite a few stairs, Mrs. Krill; I’m sorry about that,” said the one young man, “But I’m sure you and Mr. Krill can handle them. Get the kids to help,” he joked back. An hour later, we could barely get the kids to carry our balls and clubs and service dog leash. This is why the professionals hire golf caddies to drag their golf clubs around and manage the equipment. An hour into mini golf; excuse me, ADVENTURE golf, I was ready to throw in the towel. Normally, mobility challenges do not phase me or Geoff, and that is probably due to years of practice together problem-solving. These curving staircases of 6, or 12, or even 18 in some instances set me back about 15 years in my level of confidence.

This being “off pitch” or “off camber” or just “off balance” happens to all of us from time to time. Coupled with throwing a kid or two and a service dog into the act certainly didn’t make anything easier. I just wasn’t ready for it to happen to me on this day– or on a mini-golf course. However, the silver linings were the conversations with the kids about golf course etiquette and manners when a family was ahead of us and that we could yell and hoot and holler only when scoring a hole in one– not for every time you beat your sister or brother or parent at a hole.

Then the irony came when the grandfather ahead of us spoke to me about backing off because my family was stressing out his family. He had a “small child” with him, probably about 5 or 6. We also had young children with us, and a husband in a wheelchair whom I had lugged up each and every stair he had calmly walked up in his nicely ironed dress shorts and crisp blue Izod shirt. Sweat poured off my body, and I had the very irrational feeling of wanting to fling my golf club at him as I explained that there had been a big gap from time to time because of ALL the darn stairs. Instead, I took a deep breath, using the minute to explain to the children that some people will always find something to complain about, and this was just one kind of example. “But those kids didn’t even look like they were having fun,” one child observed.

“Did you have fun playing golf with Dad and me?”

“Yes! When can we come back?”

“Probably never or when we can afford our own golf caddy,” and everyone seemed to understand what I meant.

Heather Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 8 and 7.Please check out her novel True North, website, author FB page Heather Krill, @heatherkrill1 on Twitter, and, most recently added in the New Year, her Youtube channel “Writing from the Front.” 

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