Hello, my name is Meggy, I’m seventeen years old, and I just applied for the BLOCK Leadership program at Camp Korey after being a camper for five years. I was diagnosed with Kearns Sayre syndrome in 2008. Don’t worry if you don’t know what Kearns Sayre syndrome is, because in 2008, I didn’t know either! Kearns Sayre syndrome is a type of Mitochondrial disease. Thanks to KSS, I have type 1 Diabetes, hypothyroidism, heart block, scoliosis, ophthalmoplegia, and I am deaf. I have had three surgeries in my life so far, and this past November, I had a surgery to put in a cochlear implant and am learning to hear again. Five years ago, I learned about Camp Korey, that it was a place for people like me, people with diseases that made it difficult to do certain things. At first, I was hesitant to come, because the last camp I went to treated you like you were made of glass and incapable of doing things without a nurse watching you. I’m not made of glass! But I tried Camp Korey, and from the first day, I loved it. Camp Korey was a place where I could say ‘I can do this’ and they would tell you to do your best and have fun.

Life at Camp was so different from my life outside. At Camp Korey, they treat you normally, they let you try new things or things you’ve never had the chance to do because of your condition. . No one cares that I’m deaf, and treat me like anyone else. Outside of camp, it’s a completely different story. In my high school, there’s a drill team and a cheer team, and in my freshman year, I wanted to try out for one of these, but everyone worried that I would get hurt or something because of my pacemaker and the titanium rods in my back. I wanted to learn French for my foreign language credit, but the school said that because I am deaf, there would be practically no way I would be able to keep up. Camp Korey was the place I found where I could have fun with people, a place I could enjoy myself and not worry about the fact I have a pacemaker, that I have diabetes, or that I’m deaf. It’s the place where I met my best friend, who has stuck by me and supported me since the moment we met. It’s the place I am treated like a person, and everyone understands what you’re going through.

Everything at camp has impacted me in one way or another. Everything I’ve done in these past five years, from arts and crafts to the ropes course, all of it, has impacted me. One moment I remember the most was last year at camp. We had to join the younger girl’s cabin for meals and things to get ready for BLOCK, and there was a little girl who I helped for the week. She was the most adorable little girl I’d ever met, and she liked to hang out with me whenever we had activities together. I was so happy to help her paint a picture frame or make her a friendship bracelet because her smile lit up a room. She was one of the best parts of my week. It felt so good to give a younger camper the kind of welcome I had.

Every person at camp brings out the best in you, without even trying, they’re always there for you. That was one of the things that really impacted me the most. Not just the things we do here, but the people we meet. Camp has become so important to me. That hasn’t changed, and I don’t think it will, because Camp Korey is someplace very close to my heart. I’ve seen campers do things that seem impossible for them to do. I’ve seen some of the campers who have wheelchairs fly down the zip line or ride horses like it was nothing. Everything camp does impacts the campers because it makes them realize, ‘I may have a health condition, but that in no way means I can’t try this.’

I’m so excited to join the Leadership program because I can help around camp way more than I could as a camper. I get to learn about leadership through the program and that’s really exciting for me. I hope I’ll be a good leader, someone who is kind and patient.

Everything that I learned from camp will stay with me for years to come, because I’ve learned so much that will help me in life. To enjoy yourself, to try new things, to be encouraging and compassionate, to embrace who you are, the list goes on and on and I doubt we have time for it all. But my point is, camp is where I learned who I am and who I can be. Camp Korey taught me that Mito does not define who I am. I define who I am in spite of Mito. Camp Korey taught me to be myself, and to never change who I am. As Dr. Seuss once said, “you are you, and that is truer than true, and no one on earth is youer than you.”

Camp is my home away from home. It’s one of the best places on earth in my opinion. I mean, honestly, you can’t find another place where you can have a food fight in the middle of a field and then get hosed down by a fire truck. I want to be an actress in TV and movies. When I first realized this, I worried because I am deaf it would be too difficult. But at camp, they showed me there’s a way to get around my condition and do what I love. Camp Korey taught me that there will be so many people who will say I can’t, but all I have to do is turn around and say “watch me.”