“That’s the magic of camp… it gets ahold of your heart and never lets go.”
The summer months only mean one thing around ESP… SUMMER CAMP! We are so thrilled to begin our Big Bold Summer and welcome 320+ participants and their families into our home. Because of you, we are serving 22 more participants each week of camp this year and hired 11 more camp counselors who dedicate their summers to creating a magical experience for each participant.
Amidst the loud and crazy fun of a building full of hundreds of campers, counselors, and volunteers, there are many hidden stories of how these weeks of camp transform lives. As told by Laura Whitaker, our Executive Director, each new face we see this summer has an incredible story behind it, and this summer, in particular, created a full circle experience for some of our previous camp counselors:
“Twelve years ago, Chad and Kim were camp counselors. Typical college students, singing camp songs alongside me and 25 other students who had chosen to spend their summers providing camp to individuals of all abilities. That summer, a love between Chad and Kim was formed through the bond of servitude… It was a year later on the steps of the ESP gym that Chad placed a ring on Kim’s finger.
Four years ago, a beautiful message landed in my inbox. Chad and Kim’s firstborn son was diagnosed at 3 months of age with a chromosomal deletion, carrying with it many challenges, differed expectations and a life of therapy. And as I read their message and looked out at the kids playing at camp, I realized that my friends, who met and united right here, would now be on the other side of our mission as ESP parents.
Her message, while full of heartbreak, ended with hope as she, unlike many parents, knew who and where to go. She knew she had a community waiting for them with open arms. She knew she had a place to tell her son about where he would be welcomed and adored. It was a place they could look forward to. And look forward they did…
Just a month ago, it all came full circle. Kim reached out, ‘Hayes is 4, can he come to camp? We’ve been waiting 4 years for this!’ Chad and Kim entered ESP for a new parent meeting, amazed by the growth and blown away by the new building and the resources we now provide. And as I watched their four-year-old Hayes, bright-eyed, red hair and full of life… I couldn’t help but flash back to that summer 12 years ago, that engagement 11 years ago and the perfect little human surrounded by ESP love and be reminded once again… that these people and this place are all meant to be.”
Your support creates these stories and continues the magic of camp for so many families’ lifetime. We hope to see you at one of our Friend Fridays this summer to see this magic in action!
We couldn’t do it without you,
Coordinator of Development
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October 29, 2018