Imagine for a moment the look of an innocent, wide-eyed little boy as he grins with excitement and anticipation as his wheelchair is pushed up a ramp to meet the horse he will ride for the first time in his life. After a brief introduction, the horseback instructor unbuckles his seatbelt, disconnects the ventilator that assists his breathing while a respiratory therapist connects a handheld device to manually squeeze air into his lungs. The little boy is gently lifted onto his counselor’s lap who waits on the horse’s saddle.
It isn’t hard to imagine because this little boy is real, and he never imagined that riding a horse was a possibility! This is just one of the unforgettable experiences he had at Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP).
For over 40 years, CAMP has provided safe and fun-filled recreational experiences for over 1,000 individuals, provided respite to hundreds of families who need a break, offered leadership opportunities to hundreds of teen volunteers, and advanced hundreds of health care professionals through continuing education credits combined with hands-on experience.
CAMP uniquely serves individuals with developmental, intellectual, medical, behavioral, and physical disabilities who are not eligible to apply or be accepted by other special needs camps due to the severity of their disability. Here, every camper gets to participate, regardless of their ability level, and every parent gets to rest, regardless of their income.
Each year, because of CAMP, hundreds of high school and college students gain valuable, hands-on leadership training, while health care professionals receive continuing education credit for their work at CAMP. Our community is dramatically impacted as tomorrow’s leaders are developed and health care professionals gain hands-on education. Together we create a safe environment where kids of all ages can experience what it means to truly live life without being defined by a disability.
CAMP’s mission is in jeopardy and we know we can depend on you to ensure the work we do is sustained each year. All programs through May have been canceled. Now, we face the hard reality of determining what the summer program will look like, or if it too will be canceled for the safety of our campers, volunteers, and staff. Sadly, this is a significant hit to families as campers look forward to their time at camp all year. For most of the families we serve, opportunities for outdoor recreation do not come easily, as a caregiver or medical professional must be present. In a time where our communities are shut in, opportunities provided by CAMP become even more critical; for the child to have recreational experiences, but equally important for the entire family to receive a break.
Unfortunately, there is also a long-term negative impact as CAMP’s largest source of revenue is now in jeopardy. The canceling of March-May programs was difficult, but the financial loss will be significantly compounded if we cannot sustain operations through the summer. Our team is doing everything they can to connect with corporations and foundations. But nothing can replace the positive impact that comes from individual donors.
Please make a donation today at bit.ly/keepCAMPing. Every dollar makes a difference right now, and no gift is too small. CAMP’s head nurse Dee once said, “It is all our responsibility to ensure CAMP is here forever.” Now, more than ever those words ring true.