Meet the Pine Tree Campers
We're down to the wire with our donations for the Pine Tree Camp! The Egg Ride is Saturday and we're taking donations today and tomorrow...so we need your help! All this week, I've been introducing you to some of the kids who go to the Pine Tree Camp. Today, I'd like you to meet an adult whose grown up going to camp...and a Mom who tells us what the Pine Tree Camp has meant to her.
First, meet Bailey!
Pine Tree Camp has seen Bailey Thomas grow up one could say – she’s just completed her 12th year. This year is different for Bailey, however. This year she attended her first adult session.
“I’m only two days in, but so far I really like it,” said Bailey. “It’s kind of shocking how much more freedom I have.”
Children’s sessions have a lot more direction and directive throughout the course of the day. On this day, Bailey spends extra time in Arts and Crafts painting a small lighthouse with Pine Tree Camp colors.
“I can’t explain it,” she said. “I just love it here. I love the whole camp experience. I start counting down to next year before I even leave.”
In fact, Bailey’s devotion to camp goes beyond just attending. She volunteers for Camp Communicate, an innovative weekend designed specifically for non-verbal children who use computerized devices, known as augmentative communication, to communicate.
“I’m such a people person,” Bailey smiles. “I love working with the little kids and it’s so fulfilling to be able to give back to a place that means so much to me.”
Bailey also volunteered for the Pine Tree Camp Paddle Classic, a fundraising event for Pine Tree Camp.
“It was just great to get back here when it wasn’t my session week – it’s a great excuse I guess.I’ve made so many friends here. Most of my friends in my regular life are camp friends. We talk throughout the whole year and it’s just a great feeling to be here with them now and have some independence.”
Next, meet a Pine Tree Camper Mom, Emmy Deering....
"When we first toured Pine Tree Camp in June, Nick and I left and were skeptical," first time camper parent Emmy Deering said. "We thought it was beautiful here, but didn't know what to expect if we stayed for a full session. We had a lot of 'what if' questions. I felt in my heart that it was time for a change, though, so off we went to camp."
Recently learning of Pine Tree Camp, Deering felt it would be a great opportunity for her son to gain self-confidence and meet new friends.
“Nick is so adult-oriented,” Deering said. “He spends a lot of time with me and his dad. He’s so comfortable with adults. I wasn’t sure how the week would go with other kids.”
Within the first two days, Nick was having the time of his life with the other campers and counselors, participating in free swim, outdoor activities and the overnight. Staying in the family cabin, Cabin Six, Deering was able to sit back and relax for the first time in 15 years.
“I was surprised he left my side, but I wasn’t worried about him,” Deering said. “I didn’t have to think about what he was getting into, who he was with – nothing. It was a very different feeling for me. I was so calm, so at ease.”
The respite Deering experienced during her stay at Pine Tree Camp was transformational.
“I read. I gardened. I relaxed,” Deering said. “The peace and calm I felt was so incredible.”
Deering also gained great support from her cabin mates.Immediately exchanging phone numbers and email addresses, Deering and her cabin mates enjoyed their time together.
“It was like being on vacation with friends,” Deering said. “I don’t have a lot of support at home. Not a lot of people understand Nick and his disability. To be with other parents of disabled children was such an incredible experience. We shared a lot of stories, tears and laughs. We played cards and enjoyed our time. I left Pine Tree Camp with some life-long connections for sure.”
Deering and her son are already looking forward to coming back next summer.
“Nick was so excited to tell his father everything he did at camp, including making a very good friend,” Deering said. “I came home feeling rejuvenated and connected. I was able to reflect and rediscover who ‘I’ was again. When something feels that right in your heart, you should just go with it. And I’m glad we went with it at Pine Tree Camp.”
Your support of the Q106.5 Celebrity Egg Ride continues the tradition of helping campers like Bailey and families like Emmy and Nick’s attend Pine Tree Camp. All money raised goes directly to Pine Tree Camp. Make your donation today by calling 991-9500, at our online site, or stop by Danforth's Down Home Supermarket in Hermon and see J.R. He'll be there 2 to 6 today and from 2 to 9 tomorrow!