Cooper is 17 years old and has attended Pine Tree Camp every summer since he was seven, starting with Camp Pine Cone. He made a list of what he loves the most about camp:
- I love the camp counselors.
- I love that the counselors sing with me and that I get to play the guitar. (I’m all about music and dancing.)
- I love meeting new friends.
- I love being independent.
- I love feeling like I don’t need my parents because I have friends and camp counselors to hang out with.
His mother, Stacie, said “He feels free to express himself at Pine Tree Camp and he just loves every part of it. It’s hard to explain how much it means to him. He talks about it all year long.”
Five years ago, when Cooper first transitioned from day camp to overnight camp, she and her husband, Chris, knew he was ready to experience new things on his own.
“When he first hit high school, it was a definite time when he became more and more independent,” Stacie recalled. “I know Pine Tree Camp is a huge part of why that happened for him.”
Cooper is now in his junior year and loves playing Unified Basketball and taking part in the Challenger Softball League.
“He loves the outdoors and he loves swimming. He’s always been a natural. He sees friends he’s made at Pine Tree Camp when he’s out and about and always yells their name and gives them high fives. He’s definitely a people person!”
Cooper’s experiences at Pine Tree Camp have also helped Stacie step back and give him more independence at home.
“I’m really working on letting go of feeling worried if he’ll be okay without me. It’s still kind of weird for me but I know it’s what he needs.”