This holiday season, Darcy – one of our very thoughtful and talented campers — has shared with us her experiences at Camp Promise and some tips and tricks to have a great week at camp! In this time of giving and being with the ones that mean the most, we are so thankful for our campers like Darcy, their families, and our volunteers and partners for making Camp Promise such a special place. Happy Holidays from all of us at Camp Promise and Jett Foundation!
Going to another overnight camp for eight years, I was accustomed to being away for a week every summer. However in the summer of 2017, I realized I only had three years left at a place which had given me some of my most memorable experiences and closest friends. I had kept in touch with some of those who had already aged out of the camp (which happens when you turn seventeen) and they wished there was a similar camp without an age limit, so they could continue to have a week away every summer.
That was when we found out about Camp Promise run by the Jett Foundation. My friend and I decided that we would apply for Camp Promise-East and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
As I prepared for my first year at Camp Promise, I realized how nervous I was. It is a lot to meet a complete stranger and have to depend on them completely for the next week. I began to doubt myself, believing it was going to be to difficult to teach someone new all about my personal needs, however, I knew once I got there, it would all be worth it.
When I first arrived at Camp Promise, I met my counselor and a crowd of volunteers who were all eager to help me get settled in. I completed the necessary additional registration before being introduced to my fellow cabin members. My parents helped my counselor set up my equipment and showed her how each one worked, however I also knew how each of them worked so that I could remind her later. The fun activities began and I quickly formed strong bonds with all of the girls in the cabin.
Throughout the week, my counselor helped me transfer, bathe, and complete other daily tasks. The first day, my parents went over how to transfer me into and out of my wheelchair. When we did our first transfer after my parents left, I provided instructions as necessary to ensure that I felt safe and comfortable. Other counselors spotted us for the first few lifts to make sure we both felt comfortable with the process. With bathing, it was important to be honest with my counselor again to ensure my safety and comfort levels. The volunteers are there to help and do not mind taking you to the bathroom or helping you shower. It is important in these situations to advocate for yourself and make sure you notify your counselor or any of the other members of the cabin when you need to use the restroom or feel like you want to shower. My counselor also helped me change, do my hair, brush my teeth, cut up my food before eating, as well as other daily tasks. My counselor was always happy to assist me whenever I needed it!
Although attending a sleep away came can be scary for anyone, when you have a disability it can be even more nerve-wracking. However, it is important to have experiences like going away to summer camp in order to become more independent in the future. Here are some tips to ensure you have the best week ever when you go away to a camp like Camp Promise!