In honor of Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday, and this season of thankfulness, we’re excited to share with you a blog post from Trey, a seven-year veteran camper at Camp Promise-East. After aging out of other camps for people with muscular dystrophy, Trey now attends Camp Promise and shared this piece with us after camp last year to show us what camp means to him and how thankful he is to be able to attend.
The day after camp, I slowly close my weary eyes that are weathered from years of struggle, eyes that still remain kind and hopeful that others will look back without judgment and with acceptance and devotion. With my eyes closed, I am now traveling down the ramp of my van at Camp Promise as countless counselors and staff cheer and celebrate my arrival.
I close my eyes for an instant and I am now being introduced to my counselor for the week, Hannah. Despite just meeting for the first time, I am at ease. I know she will take good care of me and do everything in her power to make this coming week as memorable as possible.
I blink again and now I’m sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows, surrounded by people that I mostly only just met, but who already feel like family.
I go to rub my eyes from the smoke at the campfire and I’m now in the shower having shampoo gently massaged into my head. Emerging from a world where sponge baths are the norm, this first shower washes away every worry, every bit of anxiety, and all the pain. As I’m told to close my eyes to rinse, I’m just as quickly told to open them, now finding myself being woken up from a much needed night’s rest.
I open my eyes again and I’m back in my bedroom at home, staring at my blank computer, knowing camp is over.
Every year after going to Camp Promise-East, I realize that while I’m at camp, it’s so easy to get caught up enjoying myself that I never stopped to truly take in all my surroundings. I try my hardest to slow down time, to soak in every fleeting second of camp. But, no matter how hard I tryI can’t make those days that are so precious to me last forever. For everyone involved with Camp Promise, the days following camp are the hardest. The moment we get home, and throughout the entire year, we all wish with every inch of our being to be transported back in time to that one week of camp.
For those who don’t understand and just see me as a 27-year-old who still goes to summer camp, they couldn’t be more wrong. For the entire week of camp, I completely forget about everything that weighs me down and turns me into just a shell of whom I’m supposed to be. The smile on my face turns into one that is true and genuine, instead of one that is forced and a cover for the actual feelings that lay beneath.
There are countless events and programs that are dedicated to those with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases. But unlike those which are designed to try to fix us, change us, or make us better, Camp Promise is completely different. Camp Promise lets us be who we were meant to be. When we’re at camp, we aren’t meant to feel like an outcast or to feel embarrassed because we need help with things that the average person doesn’t even think about needing help with. Instead of hiding in the shadows, or feeling different and broken, we emerge into the Camp Promise light feeling accepted and loved. This is why I am thankful for Camp Promise!