Tonya Reeves has been coming to Pine Tree Camp for the past 10 years. She says she remembers what it was like to come for the first time. She said, “I was a very scared, very timid, little girl looking for a place that can accept me for who I am.”
She says she found that place at Pine Tree Camp.
During her stay at camp, her favorite things to do are drama and arts & crafts. She said she likes anything that “gets us involved as a human being.” She explains that society’s attitude toward people with disabilities can create a barrier to participating in such activities in her everyday life.
She says, “We get a lot of stares. We can’t do as many things in the community as we can at Pine Tree Camp.”
Each summer, 650 campers like Tonya experience the impact of the judgment-free zone at Pine Tree Camp. As campers enter the clearing, with North Pond in full view, they are welcomed with cheers from staff. Immediately campers “belong.” This isn’t something they are used to. From that moment on, campers are part of the Pine Tree Camp family. Through the support of their new, lifelong friends, they challenge themselves to try new activities like kayaking, archery or sleeping overnight in a tent. They enjoy Maine’s beautiful outdoors and don’t have to worry about barriers. For those six days, they are not different. They are just one of the gang. And their families get a much –needed break from the sometimes overwhelming demands of caring for a loved one with a disability.