It’s where I feel normal is a common phrase I heard my first time visiting Camp Needlepoint. I was rather new in the Executive Director position when I headed out to camp. I had heard many great things about camp but nothing could describe what I would see at camp. As I entered camp it felt like a fun place to be. There were smiles and laughing and even some very funny games. One thing caught my eye more than others. As I walked through camp I saw everything a camp should have but one thing was different. Instead of gathering around the picnic table to eat lunch there was many finger pokes happening. This was eye opening to me. I imagined these kids sitting at a table at school with their friends and being the only one poking their finger. I wondered how did that make them feel? How do you explain this to your friends if you are 7 years old? Then I had my AHA moment… that is why kids love this camp. It is a place where they don’t have to answer those questions or explain what is going on. Everyone at camp knows. This camp was different than other camps. It was different because kids cry when they leave not when they come. I find myself constantly talking about this wonderful camp. It is a place where kids come to be a part of a bigger family of support, it is a place where the parents can feel comfortable with leaving their child. Honestly… I have never felt safer at a camp!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the amazing camp director, counselors and medical staff. Camp is a huge production that takes a lot of time, dedication and effort. Let me talk a bit about what I witnessed with the staff while attending camp. I was blown away to find out 96% of our counselors have been campers themselves. I was amazed to hear from one counselor that he flies in each year to come back to camp to be a counselor, I was amazed to hear we have a social worker on site in case kids get home sick, I was amazed at the connection our camp director, Becky, has with these counselors and kids. If you know Becky this is not a surprise. She pours her heart into camp and it shows. She told me just today she has worked with over 8,000 families since she started as the camp director. That is dedication!
Now back to the title of this blog “It’s where I feel normal”. Last year we had a board meeting out at camp. This is always a highlight for our board members to see our mission in action. That day we met a little boy named Jacob that I will not forget. Jacob stood nervously in front of 21 board members as he and his wonderful counselor, Ben, talked to them about the importance of camp. Jacob was brave and answered questions that left a mark with every board member. One question hit us all with what we needed to hear…When we asked him what do you like best about camp he paused and said “it’s where I feel normal”.
Folks, if we can help 431 kids feel normal for one week every year that’s just what we will do!
My sincere appreciation goes out to the amazing medical staff volunteering their time, our counselors, our camp director and especially the kids that participate in our camp.
American Diabetes Association