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Summer Camp

The highlight of this summer was not fishing and camping or going to the farmer’s markets and cooking out. It wasn’t even going to Italy, although it was amazing. It was much better than all of that. It was Summer Camp!

Mitzi’s friends asked her if she wanted to volunteer for a week as a nurse at a summer camp for kids. She said yes... they said she could take me along to stay with her, and kind of hang out for the week. About a week later her friends asked her if I would be interested in volunteering as a camp counselor. Are you kidding me??? SUMMER CAMP??? COUNSELOR!!!- I’m all in!

The place we went to is the epitome of a summer camp. They have it all... horseback riding, archery, fishing and boating, a giant swimming pool shaped like a killer whale, a high ropes course and zip line, a huge cafeteria where everyone eats and dances together, awesome cabins, wood shop, arts and crafts, campfires with smores... the list goes on and on... The best part of this camp is it’s FREE for all the kids who attend! Everything is free... their airline flights, food, lodging... everything! You may be wondering how this is all free. Well, this camp is for kids who have serious illnesses. It runs strictly on donations. The camp is called The Painted Turtle. It’s under the umbrella of the group of camps Paul Newman started called SeriousFun Camps. There are a number of these camps all over the world. What I’m telling you about the camp is barely the nutshell version. I urge you to visit their website to see just how amazing they created these camps and ways you can help. Each camp is completely customized to allow all the kids who attend to be able to participate in all of the activities and have the time of their life.

The camp runs on a staff of folks hired from around the world who are some of the most caring people I’ve ever met. It also runs on a ton of volunteers. You may think it was nice of me to volunteer, but what I did was not even a drop in the bucket compared to some of the folks. I met one guy who has not missed volunteering at a session of camp since it started years ago. Another guy drives hours each week of camp to volunteer his time. The staff is AMAZING! I can’t tell you that enough. They are so professional and organized. By the time the kids gets to camp, the scenario is created so each kid has everything in place they could possibly need from a bi-pap machine and a slew of doctors and nurses, to a kitchen staff who caters to their every dietary need and a line of people who can’t wait to help these kids have the time of their lives. You would not believe how well organized and caring the whole team is, and how instantly the kids feel relaxed and can enjoy themselves. I am honored to say I got to be part of such a great team, and look forward to getting the opportunity to help out again in the future. I hope everyone is having a great summer and eating lots of tasty treats off the grill. Enjoy!

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