The Thankful Project: Day 4

Although I got a late start, I am really loving the daily reflection that The Thankful Project is supplying me with in this Thanksgiving season. Thank you so much to The Chasing Happy Blog for the inspirational gratitude prompts.

Day 4: An Experience

As a member of Delta Zeta Sorority, I was chosen to represent my chapter at one of our national philanthropies, The Painted Turtle Camp, for a week as a camp counselor.  The Painted Turtle is a camp where kids and teenagers ages 7 to 16 with a variety of serious medical conditions get to celebrate just being kids without experiencing the barriers their illnesses may provide in special, camp activities like horseback riding, high rope courses, swimming, fishing, arts & crafts, sports, archery, etc.

The Painted Turtle is a magical place where on-site medical support give children with even severe cases of conditions the power to experience the full summer sleep-away camp experience.  Examples of medical conditions seen at camp include spina bifida, paraplegia, cerebral palsy, rheumatic diseases, skeletal dysplasia, kidney disease and transplant, liver disease and transplant, immunodeficiency disorders, etc.

Oh, and have I even mentioned that the camp is free of charge?  Yes, this place really is the most incredible place on earth.

Image

The cabin my girls and I stayed in for a week-long adventure.

This experience changed my life in the most unexpected ways.  My visit to The Painted Turtle seemed both way longer than a week and too short of an experience at the same time, if that makes sense. Spending a week with girls ages 7-9 years old who, for the most part, were spending the longest period of time away from their families on their own proved to be a challenge in itself.  But, add the fact that these children were facing Rheumatic diseases and many had to endure painful injections, procedures and chronic joint pain to the mix and it was enough to shake your world view.

These young girls constantly showed me the value of perseverance, patience and gratitude.  Their positive outlooks in the face of difficult situations and challenges really provided me with a greater respect for anyone living with an illness or disability.  Thinking about what my campers dealt with on a daily basis at such a young age really puts the woes of a 20-something year old into perspective.

ImageIt was a truly magnificent experience and one that I’ll forever cherish and be changed by.  I hope that in the future I’ll have the opportunity to return to camp and serve as a counselor again.

Camp Counselors

Question: What is an experience you’ve had that has changed your life?

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