Camp Promise West, during the week of June 19-24, was nothing but a magical success! Jett Foundation could not be more excited to be back on the ground with our campers. For the past two years in a virtual setting, we got to meet new friends far and wide and stay connected with old ones. However, nothing can beat getting to see our camp friends in-person once again throughout 2022!
Camp Promise was founded in 2009 after the sudden cancellation of camps for people with muscular dystrophy. In just six weeks, we found a wheelchair-accessible camp facility, filled an activities calendar for the week, enrolled many campers and volunteers, and raised $16,000 to pay for it all. Fast forward to 2022, Camp Promise hosts camp at five locations across the country and holds one virtual Camp Promise Connect week.
Camp Promise West takes place at Camp Seymour in Gig Harbor, Washington. Not only is it important to host our campers at a beautiful and fun location, but we must be sure that our campers have access to fully accessible grounds. Across our five locations, all the campgrounds chosen have tailored spaces to fit the individual needs and abilities of each camper. We carefully curate accommodations for all of our campers to be able to participate in our activities and programs, regardless of disease progression.
“To finally be back at camp with everyone after two years was the best feeling imaginable,” says Niki Benfield, our Camp Promise Operations Director. Niki has been part of the Jett Foundation family since 2021, and previously worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s camp in Virginia.
Joined by 15 campers and 20 volunteers at this year’s Camp Promise West, we enjoyed countless moments that will last a lifetime. Our campers experienced a different theme each day of the week: cabin color day, retro game character day, college game day, camp t-shirt day, and rock-n-roll day.
All of our cabins kicked off the week by making mail boxes and sharing laughs over “rumors” read out loud at dinner. Our campers experienced the great outdoors by getting out on the water with canoes, while others swam and got to pet reptiles. Highlights from the week included a Mario Kart tournament, drive-in movie, and dancing and singing at the Candy Land dance!
One word tossed around like confetti during camp was “finally”:
- We finally got to see our community’s faces.
- We finally got to perform in the talent show.
- We finally swam in the pool.
- We finally sang “Don’t Stop Believing” all together.
“Camp was the best week that I’ve had in a very long time, and I can’t wait to go back,” says camper Alexandra Vaneske. Alexandra was in the purple cabin, which was one of five cabins at camp this year.
Each cabin has a unit leader, and throughout the week, our counselors also pair one-on-one with campers to help make their experience a magical one!
“Camp for me makes me feel like a teen again! Sure, my body gets tired, but I get so energized from the positive energy and kindness from everyone at camp,” says Kristine Kolbeck, who’s going on her third year of volunteering at Camp Promise. “My favorite part of camp was helping a few of our campers overcome their fears and worries to go canoeing for the first time! I’m so honored by the trust they had in us.” This was Kristine’s 15th year as a counselor for individuals with muscular dystrophy.
“Roasting marshmallows around a campfire with all of our campers, sharing rumors over meal times, pranking neighboring cabins in the middle of the night, getting to celebrate someone for trying boating for the first time… these moments are just irreplaceable,” says Meghan Houston, our Camp Promise Program Director.
Meghan has been a member of the Camp family since 2010. She started as a volunteer and fell in love with Camp’s mission and community right away. “After my first year, I couldn’t imagine my summers without it,” she says.
Thank you to all that helped make 2022 Camp Promise West a week to remember, including our committed campers and volunteers.
Our success also would not be possible without our incredible vendors and sponsors, including Bellevue Medical, Sugar and Spoon Ice Cream, Amazon, Twin Tees/Shirtworks, Snappy Clothing, Dunkin Joy in Childhood Foundation, The Flatley Foundation, NS Pharma, Yale Appliance, and Sarepta Therapeutics.
We cannot wait to see even more of our family during our Rockies, Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and camp connect weeks!
“We could not be more excited to take this momentum and carry it with us throughout our summer tour, as we are finally back in action,” says Meghan.
Remaining 2022 Dates and Locations:
- Camp Promise Rockies (Colorado): July 25 – July 29, 2022
- Camp Promise Arizona Retreat (18 years and older): July 27 – July 31, 2022
- Camp Promise Ohio Retreat (18 years and older): August 10- August 14, 2022
- Camp Promise East (Pennsylvania): August 15 – August 20, 2022
- Camp Promise Connect (Virtual): August 24 – August 27, 2022