The excitement builds as campers and their loved ones pull off Nippersink Road and into the parking lot of Red Leaf. The staff wait eagerly out on the grass in anticipation for their campers to arrive. The parents and care takers of the campers are filled with excitement for the opportunity their loved ones will receive in the following week.
Naturally that excitement comes with a bundle of nerves but the concern is eased when the families meet the amazing staff we have here at Red Leaf. The trust these families put into the camp staff is incredible and their expectations are surpassed. We have a staff of loving, passionate and invested counselors who work endlessly to ensure the safety and enjoyment of each camper. The caring and compassionate, dedicated and loving staff warmly welcomes the camper to his or her new home for the week. The week continues with boat rides at the lake, cannonball contests at the pool, sport/drama/art rotations, big games, ropes course climbing, talent shows and dance parties to name a few.
Weeks spent at CRL have led to amazing friendships, encouragement of independence and a lot of fun. Through the activities and attentive staff, campers flourish personally, socially and physically. Camp Red Leaf creates opportunity to expand camper’s idea of “able to” by safely providing space for campers to step into activities and experiences they may never have though possible. The accessibility of camp provides a place of yes in their world of no and stretches campers beyond their comfort zones. Programs that develop life and motor skills along with activities that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy but without Camp Red Leaf and the few others like it most haven’t. This is an environment that is fun, inclusive and promotes a sense of self-discovery unlike any place out there. Travel camp and Respites takes the camp experience on the road and into the rest of the year. We can reconnect with campers and travel the country to promote independence while broadening the worlds of our campers and ourselves
Camp (Overnight and day) continues to be a fundamental part of my life both as a camper and now as a professional. I have learned to play, be silly and just have fun. I have overcome many fears and challenges through the support and opportunities I have received from my time at camp. To imagine not being able to participate/attend a week of camp for any reason (physical, financial or other) is heartbreaking to me but is a reality for many with disabilities. Camp Red Leaf is an amazing place where “no” and “you can’t”; phrases many of our campers have heard all their lives now become “Yes” and “You can”. It has been an honor and privilege working with the campers, staff, families and JCYS. The impact this job has had on my life through the impact it has had on others is profound. The pure joy the campers exude while at camp is the most precious part of my job. I am grateful for the chance to walk along our campers and their families in this special way. I look back at this past summer with a warm and full heart. The love that comes from the relationships built here and the days filled with moments of triumph and victories for our campers, the fun, laughter and love shared at Camp Red Leaf makes me so grateful and excited to come to work in the morning.