“It’s really good there and when you’re having a hard time they comfort you. I got to call my Mom. They just gave me the phone so I could talk with her. Everybody is so nice.”
Bethany is 11 years old and, when asked about Pine Tree Camp, that’s the first thing she said.
“When you have a disability you feel like you fit in there because you’re not made fun of for it,” she continued “Everybody there has their own problems and you fit right in. I can just be myself. At Pine Tree Camp I just join right in and that helps me outside of camp and gets me used to joining in with other kids.”
Last year was Bethany’s first year at camp and her mother, Deborah, recalled how when she dropped her off she was scared and didn’t want to go. “When I picked her up she was crying and didn’t want to leave. She made such good friends that we made arrangements for this summer so they are all going back together the same week.”
“When I got there, at first I cried,” said Bethany. “I don’t like being away from my mom. But not even 10 minutes later I stopped crying and was in a good mood. The staff understands how hard it can be at first. They want you to have the best time possible. They really understand. They help you so it’s possible to meet your goals.”
Bethany’s sister, Emily, is 13 years old and has been attending Pine Tree Camp since she was seven.
“This will be my seventh year. I really love it. When you’re there everybody is very nice. They help you. I love to swim and do sports at Pine Tree Camp. I usually don’t love to do sports at all, but when I’m there, I do. I’m also not really good with art and, one summer when I was there, I made a bracelet and it was so much fun that I ended up making them for all the campers and counselors.”
For their mother, Pine Tree Camp is a chance for her daughters to have the opportunity to understand more about people who have disabilities. She works with people with developmental disabilities so that is very important to her.
She said, “They get to know people in a small group setting and it gives them more exposure to different people with different challenges. It gives them the chance to get to know other kids and become more knowledgeable and understanding of what different people go through.”
It also gives her peace of mind that they are at a safe place with well-trained staff who are responsive to whatever their needs might be.
“It really is a godsend. They really work with the kids and there’s such a high ratio of staff I really feel good about sending them to Pine Tree Camp. I truly thank the people who fund camp. Without their contributions, my daughters wouldn’t be able to go. There’s no way I could come up with the money. I am very grateful for the staff and the funders.”