When you support Camp Korey’s programs, you “set the stage” for children and their families to have unforgettable experiences. Camper mom Christina says it best:
I wanted to sit down right away and tell you about what you truly give to the children who attend Camp Korey and what you give to the parents/caregivers. You have “set the stage” for children and families to relax and be fully engaged and safe. I have always known that Camp Korey was magical but when I walked into a general camp experience with my daughter, my feelings were even more clear. I became more deeply aware that Camp Korey has not only changed lives for children but also their parents/caregivers.
“Setting the stage” for children to be children is something that takes endless time, a lot of resources, and a whole lot of amazing people. The outside world isn’t prepared and not always willing to take the time to welcome/include people of difference. I sometimes fear the outside world as we often get treated less than, we get pictures taken of us so that we become a “show,” we have things that we can’t reach or access and we are often not included or welcomed because we don’t fit the “norm.”
This year my daughter and I went to 6th grade camp with her school. We took a drive to the location weeks before in hopes that we could “set the stage” for what was going to be a great experience for my daughter to feel welcomed and included. We knew this would be a hard journey but all of us, plus our amazing principal were willing to make it all happen. I came home with pages of notes, lists of supplies needed and a worried mind and heart. My daughter was excited to hear about my thoughts about camp that night…I took a deep breath, smiled at her and told her that camp would be amazing and she would have fun. I knew that day, I had to try and become Camp Korey . . . I would be the doctor, the nurse, the camp counselor, and everyone else that was needed so that she would be just like her classmates.
Camp day had arrived . . . we said good bye to her Dad, the car was packed, my daughter joined her peers on the school bus, and I left early so I could be ahead of the crowds. I unpacked and carried all of our belongings up a long dirt road three times and prepared our camp space as best as I could so when my daughter walked into the cabin with her peers she felt just like them. Ready to have fun! There is a simple thing that makes the world of difference at Camp Korey . . . a warm bedroom that is nicely made and ready for our children. I always loved the bright and colorful quilts at Camp Korey. That moment at 6th grade camp I was again reminded what an amazing gift it is for parents to not have to pack, carry and make beds for our children so they can feel warm and safe at night. As you may know, I am four feet tall . . . making a bed is no easy task! HA!
We jumped into activities and meals. I made sure we had stools in the bathrooms and I would assist my daughter physically for everything that was needed. My little body took it all so she could be with her classmates. She laughed, she danced, she played games, and she walked endlessly. She was amazing. Her physical challenges didn’t stop her and when they did, I was there to make it work the best I could. She wanted to be there, she wanted to be a part of her peers, she wanted to feel the magic of camp . . . at one point she looked up at me and said, “this is not Camp Korey, Mom.” I sure tried to make it a little bit of Camp Korey but sadly even with my help, my daughter could not take part in serving the meals with peers, she couldn’t try the climbing wall, use the restroom sinks or wash with soap, or jump into some of the team building activities. However, she did carry the Camp Korey spirit in her heart and tried all that was possible. The simple things like stools, lower tables, staff who get down and chat with you, doctors who make you feel medically safe, bathrooms that are prepared for all sizes, games and activities that include everyone . . . that is magic. Camp Korey has mastered “setting the stage” so that parents like myself don’t have to do all that hard work to make camp successful.
So, I guess I am writing to truly say THANK YOU. I tried so hard to be Camp Korey for my dear daughter and I just couldn’t do it like you. I sure tried but I didn’t have the resources and the amazing people that make Camp Korey. Thank you for “setting the stage” so that parents can leave their children and drive away knowing their children are going to be included, welcomed, safe, and have endless fun! The gift you give us and our children is priceless.
Warm Wishes from a Camp Korey Mama,