“I was excited to go. I loved it from the first week.”
That’s how Barbara remembered she felt when she went to Pine Tree Camp in fourth grade. She’s now 24 years old and has been going ever since.
Her mother Denise was a little nervous. They’d tried another camp and it hadn’t worked out.
“But as soon as we got there, they were shouting her name and clapping. I could see all the different abilities of the campers and I could tell automatically that it was going to work. I thought ‘They’ve got this!’”
Barbara is still in touch with all the friends she met that first year.
In fact, after her first summer of camp, at ten years old, she had her first ever play date with a friend she’d made at Pine Tree Camp.
“Pine Tree Camp helped her become part of a community. Her experiences there made her more confident and willing to socialize,” her mother said. “The people at camp have become like family. We see them throughout the year at Special Olympics, bowling tournaments and swim meets.”
For Barbara, her time at Pine Tree Camp means being outside, seeing her friends and being with the counselors.
“I like that the counselors know everything about me,” she said.
She also likes that she and her friends are experiencing camp together.
“I have a friend who I’ve been going to camp a few years together with,” she continued. “She’s non verbal and I’ve seen her open up. She knows if she’s trying to say something I can understand.”
For Denise, Barbara’s week at camp is the only time she doesn’t have to worry.
“I go camping by myself because I know I don’t need to hover at home worrying or waiting for a call. I know she’s at a place where I don’t have to worry. The counselors can handle anything, and handle it well. Every year I think it’s a very magical atmosphere. The happiest place on earth is not Disney World, it’s Pine Tree Camp.”