Camp is Home. Camp is Family.

Camp is Home.
Camp is Family.

Sophie, a SeriousFun camper

I was so excited to go to The Painted Turtle for my very first time. While I had been to family camp once before, summer camp was a whole new and amazing experience!

At camp, I’m able to swim, ride horses, and fly through the air on ziplines. I take on adventures and try new things. I don’t need my mom or my aide to help me do anything. I fit in and I’m just like everybody else. And that’s what means the most to me there. At camp, the kids want to be my friend.

I take all of this home with me too. Now, when new things are presented to me, I try them! I’ve even decided that when I grow up, I want to be a pediatrician so that I can help other kids too.

Last year when we arrived at camp, there was a banner that said “Welcome Home” and that’s where I was. Home. Camp is like family to me. There’s no place else on earth where I feel so included. Thank you for the amazing gift of camp. I can’t wait to go back!

Sophie with her family at the Painted Turtle, a SeriousFun camp in California.
Sophie with a friend she made at camp!

Stephanie & David, Sophie’s parents

Our daughter Sophie is a typical 13 year-old girl—sensitive and shy, but also bubbly and optimistic. Sophie also has an as-yet-undiagnosed form of ataxia, a central nervous system disorder that affects her voluntary muscle coordination. Sometimes her speech is hard to understand, even for us. She uses a walker in her classroom and needs her pink wheelchair for longer distances. At school, even with an aide to help, keeping up with the other kids is just plain hard for her. She gets left out a lot.

Then we found The Painted Turtle, a SeriousFun camp in California. What I love about camp is that it’s a place where everyone looks past Sophie’s disabilities and instead sees our daughter for the unique girl she is on the inside. To us it’s magic.

Sophie gets it, too. She will tell you herself that what means the most to her about camp is that the kids here want to be her friend. Camp makes her feel like any other teenager. She doesn’t need her mom or her aide to help her do anything—something that has given her so much confidence and independence. And what kid doesn’t want that? What parent doesn’t want that for their child?

When she goes to camp, there’s never a worry—the whole week. I don’t worry that she’ll miss us or that she won’t be able to keep up. The only time she cries is when camp ends because she doesn’t want to leave. Right now there’s no cure for Sophie’s ataxia, so she thrives on the courage and confidence that she’s gained at camp. She thrives because of camp. Thank you for giving our daughter this amazing gift.

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