A day in the life of: Stephanie
Meet Stephanie! 2016 was her first year in the Purple Cabin at Camp Promise-East, and she has a lot of advice for new campers. Fun fact about Stephanie: She brought her caregiver from home to be her counselor for the week and they drove 10+ hours to get to camp!
2016 was my first time at Camp Promise. I was so nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I attended another camp for several years as a kid, but this was was going to be different. It was 12 hours from home (Ohio to Connecticut), it was an unfamiliar place, and I didn’t know anyone yet. For those of you contemplating going to camp for the first time, here is some information from someone who did it and succeeded!
I started preparing and packing a whole month before camp. As soon as I received my camper packet I got busy. There is a different theme for every day of camp, so I had to plan accordingly. I also packed snacks, my own bedding, and all of my meds. It’s also nice to bring your own shower chair if you have room for it.
All of the campers and volunteers get dressed up every day. Some of the themes during my week were: Holiday Day (I was Rudolph), Cartoons & Comics Day (I was Wonder Woman), Stars 'N Stripes on the 4th of July, Cabin Color Day (the cabins are all color coded), and Camp T-shirt Day (you get a cool, new, Camp Promise t-shirt). People really get into the themes!
As soon as we pulled up the long driveway to camp, everyone was cheering my name. Once we parked there was a group of people waiting to help unload the car and put my things in my cabin. They even helped me get settled and organized, too! We made my bed, made sure I knew where everything was, and took a quick tour of the camp grounds. Then once everyone arrived, we decorated the inside of our cabin.
My cabin was the Purple Cabin. There were three female campers (including me), three female counselors, 2 female program staff, and a Unit Leader in my room. Each camper gets their own counselor and everyone helps everyone. We also had two bathrooms directly across the hall. There wasn’t any air conditioning in our room, but we had big fans that helped keep the cabin comfortable.
The whole camp eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner together in the dining hall. Some of the meals we great, and some were typical camp food :) I brought snacks for these few times. In the afternoon, there is also a snack provided by camp that is passed out all over campus.
All of the activities were awesome! In the morning, each cabin is assigned an activity to do together. During the middle of the day, there was free time to participate in any open activity you’d like. In general, some of the activities included arts & crafts, sports, swimming, board games, Jeopardy, and fishing. In the afternoon, we had an activity called an “Elective,” during which we had a choice between three different tracks that we did everyday for the whole week. We worked to build a project little by little and then presented it on the last day to the whole camp. I chose Arts & Crafts, but Journalism, Film Making, and Computer Science were the other options.
In the evening, we had a planned activity with the whole camp. One night, there was a casino complete with a snack bar, play money, magician, tattoo artists drawing temporary tattoos, and horse races! Another night, we had an Under The Sea themed prom with glow sticks and a photo booth!
There were plenty of opportunities to play fun, harmless pranks on people. The pranks had to be approved by the “designated prank approver”. I was in the purple cabin and we snuck into one of the boys’ cabins and bombarded it with purple streamers! We somehow got away with not getting pranked back!
At breakfast each day, campers and volunteers can write anonymous notes and rumors to each other. The awesome camp directors read them out loud during dinner and they have the entire camp cracking up. I didn’t put any rumors in, but I was asked to the camp prom through the rumor box!
There is a board titled “Firsts” that is hung up in the common area. If it is your first time doing something you can write that on the board. It was fun to see the different things people wrote. A few of my firsts were having my face plastered into a mask, eating a Choco-taco, and tackling the steep fishing hill.
All in all, Camp Promise was better than anything I could have imagined! Camp Promise is truly a place where we can forget we have a disability and take a break from reality for a little while. I made some lifelong friendships and cannot wait to go back next year!