Two weeks ago, it was the night before I was going to Camp Promise East in Connecticut. I could hardly contain my excitement; I had looked forward to camp for the entire year before. For me, camp was more than just a place full of European accents and fun. For me, camp was the best week of my entire life, full of friends I will never, and can never, forget. One week ago, it was time to go home. I truly did not want to leave camp; I was savoring every last second before my dad came to pick me up. When he finally did show up, I said my goodbyes and gave probably 30 or more hugs. As my van drove away with me in it, I felt a sadness come over me as I realized that I had to wait another year to go back. Two hours in, after thinking about all that I had done at camp, my sadness turned into INSPIRATION. It was time to make the next year a productive one, to make next year at camp a year that will be impossible to forget, but first I have to thank those who inspired me in the first place.
Camp is not over. It’s far from that.
This week at camp has been the best week of my life and I cannot thank any of you enough. There is nothing else in my life that I look forward to as much as I look forward to going to camp each year. Heck, the week before I could go to camp, it was the only thing on my mind. I almost did not survive that week because my excitement was so hard to contain.
This goes out to all of the counselors, volunteers, program staff, and of course Pete and his hard working team. You may say that we, the campers, are the inspiration, but I don’t believe that is completely true. All of you are the true inspirations. All of you are selfless enough to take three months out of your busy lives and work for almost no pay in a country so different from your own. You break your backs transferring campers in and out of their chair. You laugh at our jokes that aren’t even funny. You make us feel at home. You make us happy, even when you wonder yourself how anyone in our situation could ever be so happy. You keep a smile on your face when something goes wrong. You make it look so easy; I know that sometimes it’s not even close to that easy. You are the inspirations. Need more reasons?
Our lives are not easy. We have so much to deal with, but not much time to deal with it in. Our bodies are slowly falling out of our control. Do you even know how hard it is sometimes to keep a smile on our face? We are not inspirations; we are just living our lives as full as we can with all of the problems that we are forced to face. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger; I can definitely say that is true for me. You are the inspirations, since all of you take our mind off of our daily struggles. You make us feel accepted for who we truly are. You give us a reason to hope, even when the darkness completely surrounds us. You make us laugh, instead of letting us cry about it. You treat us like we are part of the group, not outside of it. At home, it is so hard sometimes just to fit in and be accepted into mainstream society. At home, there is so much more that we have to do to fit in. We sometimes have to lie about or change who we are. We sometimes have to get rejected so many times in able to get accepted once. We are not shy; it’s the rest of the world that makes us look that way. It’s the rest of the world that makes us feel so different; makes us feel so alone and apart from it all.
At camp, everything changes. Our life turns into a dream. It’s not anymore about what we cannot do; instead it’s what we CAN do. It’s not anymore about all the pain; instead it’s about what we can GAIN. Simply stated, Camp Hemlocks, and all of you, Keep Us Alive. There is so much all of us campers can take, and without any of you inspirational people, with hearts of gold and an undying drive, I do not know how I, or any of the campers, would survive without it.
This goes out to all of the campers at Camp Hemlocks. I hope that you agree with what I have stated above. I believe it deep down within my heart and soul; it all flowed out when I started writing it down. And if you do agree, I’m asking you to give all of those who make Camp Hemlocks possible a moment of silence for all that they do. I’d also like you to write a thank you out to one or two, or even all, of the Camp Hemlocks staff, counselors, volunteers, donors, and dreamers. I know that I could never put my entire thank you into words, although I’m trying my best to do so right now. But let us give them the thanks that they deserve, even if we can never truly thank them enough.
This goes out to all of Camp Hemlocks: the campers AND the counselors. Without all of you, there would be no camp, and I cannot imagine life without it. That is why I want all of you to help me turn the rest of the world, and the rest of our lives, into Camp Hemlocks. We can bring that acceptance out into the world, together. We can show others that we are bigger, better, faster, stronger, and that our lives, can last longer. Imagine there’s no countries, only cabins. Imagine all the so-called disabled living life in harmony with the rest of the so-called normal people out there. It’s easy if you do.
Camp Hemlocks – Hem-Locked Together Forever :) <3
Want to join us as we try our hardest to change the world into a place full of acceptance and understanding of those with disabilities? Want to be part of something more than yourself? Something that can truly make the world a better place, not only for those dealing with life-threatening disabilities, but for everyone who has felt rejected, left out, or has made a mistake? Then leave a comment below and I will think of a way to get you involved. Or if you have an idea yourself of what you can do, please feel free to let me know. :)