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Looking Back (A Guest Post by Terin)

  Whole camp photo, Camp Promise-West 2009.

Whole camp photo, Camp Promise-West 2009.

This summer, Camp Promise-West will host its 10th session of camp. In preparation for this, we’ve done a lot of digging through old notes and photos and it’s hard not to get nostalgic. So please bear with me.

We’ve never done things by the book. So it’s quite fitting that our 10th anniversary is really only 9 years and 6 weeks from when we started. Maybe it’s being almost a decade older or maybe it’s having that much more camp experience, but only now am I starting to see the absurdity of what we pulled off that first year. Planning an entire camp in just 6 weeks wasn’t just about raising money and filling an activities schedule and convincing people to send their loved ones away for a week to a camp that had zero history. It meant finding a wheelchair accessible facility and processing everyone’s (paper!) applications in six weeks, too.

Our camp family has grown in the last decade-ish. We went from 29 campers in 2009 to serving nearly 100 campers across 3 sites last summer. Applications have gone from being physically sent to my apartment to a PO Box and now electronically to Shannon, our registrar, at the Jett Foundation office. Instead of racking up a multi-hundred dollar phone bill in overages with calls going directly to my cell phone, we now have a legitimate phone number that even ends in PIGS.

Some of the processes may have changed, but the passion is still there. We still debate the merits of theme days until the late hours of the night. Have long discussions about which counselor’s energy will complement which campers. And although we’re doing the actual pairings using a Ggoogle Doc and not using magnets with everyone’s names on my fridge like the first few years, it’s still just as important as it was in Year One.

Looking back on all the photos from the first few years of camp is bittersweet. Over the years we’ve said goodbye to a lot of campers. Campers in title only because many of them have become close friends over the years. As a community, loss is part of who we are. And it fuels us to go all-out with every opportunity and treat every year as though it could be someone’s last. And although they may not be with us to celebrate this milestone in person, their memories are in the activities we know they enjoyed.

Over the summer months, as we look forward to camp season, we’ll also be looking back. So be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and stay tuned for some fun trips down our own memory lane—which even in our minds is paved and fully accessible.

Terin Izil