You could say that Ajay Beaudoin from Lewiston has grown up at Pine Tree Camp. Ajay, an 18 year old senior from Lewiston, first came to Pine Tree Camp when he was 8 years old. His experience there has helped him become more self-confident and eager to take on responsibility. So much so, that he says his dream job is to be a counselor at Pine Tree Camp. His father, Andre, sums up Ajay’s experience at Pine Tree Camp with just four words, “He can be himself.” His mother, Trina chimes in with, “His heart is with Pine Tree Camp.”
Andre says that Ajay told his job coach that he wants to be a counselor at Pine Tree Camp because he can relate to the people who go there. He said, “I can be myself. I don’t have to put on a mask.”
Ajay explains, “When I first was there, I was nervous at first. Then I got more comfortable. I would help out sometimes.” Ajay loves to help the counselors by taking on responsibilities like helping out in the cabins and taking roll call.
When asked to describe what he thinks the best part of being a counselor would be, he quickly states, “Helping out the kids and making them laugh and just having fun with them.”
Ajay and his family have seen first-hand the positive impact of Pine Tree Camp. Trina says that spending time with campers with a variety of disabilities has made Ajay more compassionate toward other individuals. It also makes him see that he is not the only person with a disability and he does not feel that he is alone. He sees the other campers with more severe disabilities accomplish things he would never think possible and he thinks, “If they can do it, I know I can do it.”
Trina adds, “Watching my son be who he is and not looking over his shoulder or worrying about what others think, or not worrying about what he thinks other people think about him, is a HUGE deal. That’s what Pine Tree Camp does.”
Ajay explains what it’s like to be at Pine Tree Camp, “I get to make a lot of new friends, get to see old friends there, and I get to be myself at camp because when I’m not at camp it’s like I have to hide a bit. When I’m at camp, I am myself and I can just do whatever.”
Oxford Networks participates in the Pine Tree Camp 100 campaign to provide financial support for campers like Ajay to spend a week at Pine Tree Camp. Paul Badeau, Marketing Manager, says Oxford Networks selected programs which benefit youth as a focus area when determining where to invest their charitable contributions. He says, “When I read about and heard about the mission of Pine Tree Society, I thought it was a perfect fit.”
Paul visited Pine Tree Camp and describes it as “a gem of a camp.” He was says that in addition to the incredible facility, such as a swing that can accommodate wheelchairs and the quarters for families to stay in, he was impressed with how much interaction there was between the staff and the kids.
Paul says, “When you go and see what the organization is all about, it makes it more tangible. It’s also very rewarding to know that in a very small way, we are contributing to the ongoing mission of this important camp. ”
He says it’s also nice to know that there is an individual that is directly impacted by the contribution. Companies like Oxford Networks keep the open door policy at Pine Tree Camp alive and well and help campers like Ajay find a sense of purpose and self-confidence that will impact them for years to come.