This is the amazing story of Susan Friedman, a volunteer who was a counselor at Camp Promise in 2015. She was unable to attend camp in 2016 because that was the summer she began a legendary journey where she hiked more than 1,000 miles and raised almost $500 for Camp Promise. See her story below.
One year ago, on March 30th 2016, I began the most epic adventure of my life: hiking the Appalachian Trail. I started at Mile 0 in Georgia, and three months later, when I got to Mile 1,023 at Harper’s Ferry, I was covered with bug bites, poison ivy scabs, dirt (I hadn’t showered in 2 weeks), sweat, a swollen ankle (special shoutout to Camp Promise-West counselor Andrew Cleaver who, unbelievably, sent me an ankle brace on trail!), a ripped shirt, and the biggest smile ever. I was totally cheesing. There was no place on earth I would have rather been.
Well, that’s almost true. Even more than the shower I desperately needed, I longed to be at Camp Promise. Camp was where this whole adventure started and what kept me going throughout. I had never even heard of Camp Promise before 2015, but by some weird coincidence, I happened to have met Libby Brockman, one of the camp directors, over a weekend in the spring of 2015. We got to talking and by the end of the conversation, after hearing all about the camp, I just said, “Sign me up, I’ll be there!” That summer I spent some time road tripping around the country, so I was able to plan my route around both Camp Promise-Rockies and Camp Promise-West. Going to Camp Promise twice in the summer of 2015 was a life-changing experience.
How does one put into words the awesomeness of this camp? It’s not just the coolest group of campers, or the incredible handpicked staff who arrive from all over the country. Or the fun activities and crazy pranks and even wackier camp directors. Or the theme days and dances and costumes. Or the food, which I need to say, was the best food that I’ve ever had at a camp! For me, it’s the feeling I get throughout the whole week, knowing I am in the right place at the right time. It’s incredible. It’s feeling, on the last day of camp, that I know exactly where I will be next summer, right back in the same place, no matter what. It’s being acutely aware that your life, after this one week, has changed.
In 2015, I was fortunate enough to attend camp twice and have these life-affirming experiences. After that, I decided I wanted to turn my hike into a fundraiser and raise awareness for Camp Promise. There’s so many ways to contribute to camp, and I knew I needed another way to contribute to camp’s awesomeness. So, even though I was not able to physically be at camp last year, I was there in spirit.
Now, it is the end of June 2017 and Camp Promise-East is coming up. I am happy to not be on the trail this time around and I am counting down the days for the start of Camp Promise-East…T minus 9 days! I can’t wait to see old friends and make new friends. And, rumor has it, I will be the second person to ever attend at three Camp Promises.
Some say Disneyland is “The Most Magical Place On Earth”. Clearly they have never been to Camp Promise!
–Post by Susan Friedman