Hello friends! I had so many things to blog about today, but I’m pushing them to the side to talk with you about something that is so close to my heart…Camp Hope. I’m not sure you’ve heard about this amazing place, but it’s a five-day recreational and residential summer camp in the Chicago area for children, teenagers, and young adults from the ages 11-30 who are challenged by developmental disabilities. Camp Hope offers typical summer camp activities such as swimming, dancing, singing, arts and crafts, adaptive sports, cookouts, a magic show, and a carnival. It’s one of the only residential summer camps in the United States that offers one-on-one care for each camper.
There are so many awe-inspiring things to witness at Camp Hope at Camp Henry Horner, but I’m only going to highlight the most special here.
First, I can never get enough of how much the campers love to be together. For many of them, the chance to feel like they have peers enjoying the best of summer is a rarity. There are a number of repeat-campers and most summers feel like a reunion. Their pure joy is infectious!
Second, each camper is assigned a “buddy” or two. These local high schoolers provide anything–and everything–these campers need to be able to be there. Transportation, feeding, toileting, bathing–these kiddos do it all. And their JOY in doing it is off the charts! My senior son and soon-to-be college freshman daughter have spent the last few summers here and they always look forward to this week more than anything else. I’m in absolute awe of what they are capable of…I think they surprise themselves, too. I often tell my children that if they can care for a camper as their parents care for them, they can do anything!
Finally, there are the angels in the wings who make Camp Hope happen. I’m still a relative newbie to this operation, only helping serve dinners (others have provided) from summer to summer. This was my first year to be on site when camp was being set up. I had no idea that the dear few people behind the scenes bring everything! The kitchen tools, the swim noodles, the games, the shelving for all of the medicines…it’s amazing what I saw get unloaded off the truck. Not to mention, these same few people train a new crew of teens every year to be able to care for these campers, make most of the meals, while often also being chaperones at camp long-after everyone else has gone home. I also have first-hand knowledge that the nurses on site use their vacation time so that they can be there. Angels in our midst without a doubt.
Let me know if you’d like to take a peek at camp this week or next. I would be happy to take you!