When I was young, I vividly remember going to numerous summer camps - 4-H camp...volleyball camp…and even cheerleading camp. No matter where I went, I had a blast. It was always a fun-filled week away from home where you met people from all over. I have memories from camp in which I will never forget, but today I have added the most memorable day to my list of summer camp experiences.
This morning I had the opportunity to visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Summer Camp at Tall Oakes Conference Center in Linwood, KS. Walking into organized chaos, I was greeted by a ton of smiles. Monica helped me get my presentation set up and after only a small amount of orange duct tape, I was ready to rock!
I had a chance to talk to the girl campers about how it is okay to be unique and how important it is to not let others tell you who you are as a person. Every girl that I know has had issues of self-confidence and trying to fit in at some point in their lifetime. It is a huge problem and can be extremely confusing when society is telling us that we have to be one person and it's not even close to who you are and/or who you want to be. We must remember that we are responsible for who we are as people and have the ability to control how certain situations and other people' thoughts affect us.
After my presentation we had a little bit of time before lunch, so the girls took me over to one of their favorite activities – arts and crafts. You can definitely tell that it is a popular camp pastime because as soon as you walk in there is one long table packed with everything the kids have made so far. I got to hang out for a bit and see what everyone was making – it ranged from headbands to airplanes and there was plenty of painting all around.
After art and crafts, we made our way to the dining hall for some grilled cheese sandwiches and salad, and then made our way over to the cabins for their rest period.
While eating lunch, it really hit me how special this place was. The kids, counselors, and all of the staff are completely amazing.
MDA Camp provides kids with muscular dystrophy, ages 6-17, a chance to have the summer camp experience like any able-bodied person. There was a total of 78 campers this year and each camper has a one-on-one counselor who helps them with anything and everything. All week long, they are able to participate in activities such as horseback riding, arts and crafts, swimming, dances, zip lining, sidecar rides, and so much more. This week is something the campers look forward to every year…and the same goes for the counselors.
I cannot say enough about how great the kids were, but I must talk about and give a shout out to the counselors. They are absolutely amazing! Most volunteer their first year because they know someone with MD, but come back year after year because it is such a great experience for the campers and them, as well. The counselors and staff are the ones who make it possible for the campers to experience everything they do.
It was such an amazing experience to visit camp today and I truly wish everyone could have a chance to see just how amazing it is for themselves. I highly suggest everyone to check out the MDA and look into volunteering for such an event – you will definitely not regret it! I can only hope that I will have the chance to go back next year!