Between the ages of 7 and 11, I “lived 10 months for two” – meaning I was obsessed with summer camp. I lived the other 10 months of the year just for those two months at camp.
Seeing my summertime best friends every day and having (what we thought of as) no rules and pure fun always felt like an escape from reality. Now, a decade or so later, I realize it was during those carefree, hot, summer days that I developed into who I am today and learning about myself.
Summer camp may just seem like a way to get kids out of the house, but it is much more than that.
This year, I interned for DBHIDS with the Madeline Moore Summer Camp Grant. The grant allows children with behavioral disabilities to attend camps all throughout Philadelphia with necessary staff there to ensure they are treated the same as everyone else while being treated appropriately for their needs.
By attending these camps, children find a safe and comfortable environment where they can make friends and not feel different from those around them. My internship allowed be the incredible opportunity to see children throughout Philadelphia creating bonds with friends, contributing to their community, learning about new talents and skills, and enjoying themselves.
Early in July, I visited ACE Summer Camp in Northwest Philadelphia, where I was able to talk with the children about my backgrounds and learn about them and their aspirations. As a rising senior at The College of New Jersey studying public health, I loved explaining my field of study – a field most of them had never heard of. Many went on to express an interest in studying public health. One girl even said her dream was to open her own hospital.
Hearing so many high aspirations in a variety of paths was so promising. It filled me with hope. I assured the children to stay true to who they are, follow their dreams, and work hard.
Being able to give back to the community and see children across Philadelphia have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and grow at camp was a tremendous experience. I’m honored and to have been a part of DBHIDS with the Madeline Moore Summer Camp grant.