Week 3 of Paradise Went Swimmingly: Check Out All We Accomplished!

Many of our campers made huge social accomplishments this week! Some of them came out of their shells, some took a chance and met a new friend, and some even led their group for the first time! It’s safe to say that we had a blast during week 3 in paradise! 

From campers, to volunteers, to summer staff, we have had an eventful week filled with Adventure Camp for our younger-middle unit, we raced around the Funopolis go-kart track, and learned how to play frisbee golf! All of this happened all while being united with some of our best friends. We are so lucky and thankful to have paradise this year, so let’s give a hip, hip, hooray to another week! 

A Fearless Volunteer

Ellie, an 11-year-old volunteer, stepped through the doors of ESP for the first time this past week. She thought summer camp was absolutely magical. She knew she had made the right decision to spend a part of her summer here when she witnessed Flag this morning. She said it was the “most energetic activity she had ever participated in.” Ellie heard about ESP through her two close friends, Mary and Lillian who convinced her to try ESP out. Ellie went with her buddy to swim and enjoyed getting to play in the water with her. 

“Moments with Mikey”

Michael, or as we know him around ESP, Mikey, was paired with Dani this week, another long-time volunteer and now staff member. 

“He made my entire week with his bright smile. He was a little frowny when he originally got out of the car, but ESP can turn that frown around almost instantaneously. At Flag, he got sprayed with some water, and immediately cackled for a straight 10 minutes. For the rest of the week he really wanted to keep getting sprayed with water. One time we had him spray me and he thought that was hilarious too.” Being with Mikey this week has taught me a lot of things about myself, and I feel inspired to keep pursuing this job and career pathway,” said Dani.

Mariah and Mrs. Debbie

Debbie has been driving people of all abilities around on her bus for over 30 years for the Oconee County Schools system. She has specifically been driving for ESP for over 20 years, and was dear friends with our founder, Martha Wyllie.

The bond between these two (Mariah and Mrs. Debbie) is unimaginable, and they are stuck together like glue, as you can see in this photo. Our bus drivers are the foundation of our unique opportunity that our participants get to experience. Summer camp would not be possible without our bus drivers who safely transport our entire camp to swimming, bowling, and Funopolis. 

Mrs. Debbie says “This is my life. I wake up every morning with the true purpose of driving these kids around. They have become some of my closest friends, and they inspire me.”

Camp Fosters Friendship

Luke and Caiden have become really great friends through summer camp which is what it’s all about. In the pool the other day, the two had a water fight that lasted the whole time they were there! Luke can be shy at times, so this was a huge deal to make close friends on the first day of the week.

Shelby Swam in Sandy Creek: Say That 5 Times Fast! 

Shelby has been an ESP participant for a long time now, and she took our staff by surprise when she got in to play in the sand with her buddy on Thursday. 

One of our staff members, Ryan, said he had never seen Shelby get fully in the water before that day. It was like one big rally, everyone in the water chanted Shelby’s name to encourage her that she could do it! By the time she stepped foot in the water, she exclaimed, “I did it, I knew I could do it!” Her realization of knowing that she could conquer the water, made everyone cheer her on even more. 

Horsing Around at Adventure Camp: How We Fight our Fears

For the longest time, Carolena has been scared of animals. She would run far away any time they were in sight in the ESP building or at Hooray. This year, we slowly started introducing the idea of being near the animals, and for the first time ever she casted her worries aside. 

Carolena gave a horse a pat that her buddy will forever remember. She looked at peace with the fact that she had accomplished something huge: being near the horse that for so many years was a struggle for her. These fear-facing moments mean so much to our campers and their families, which is why summer camp facilitates independence and growth through these monumental steps.

Adventures We’re Looking Forward To Witnessing

We’re excited for another extraordinary week of camp, and seeing the new skills that our campers demonstrate from their time in paradise with their peers! Our future is bright, but paradise is brighter. See you next week!