We have conquered our fears, defied all odds, and become the best versions of ourselves this week at camp. There have been discoveries, new experiences, and moments made of pure joy that cannot be described. This is what paradise feels like, our campers get to live in it every day of camp! Adventure is on the horizon for many of these campers, but let’s take a look at all that happened this week!
From Fort Myers, FL to Watkinsville, GA
One of the biggest surprises we’ve ever had at camp is for a family to fly all the way from Fort Myers, Florida to our building for summer camp! Samantha stepped out of her car on Monday, and couldn’t believe her eyes. Back where she is from, there are not any programs that exist to create opportunities for people of all abilities. She said she was “absolutely shocked” to see the celebration and excitement of everybody- from campers all the way to staff members.
Samantha stayed with one of our very own summer staff, Hailey, whose grandparents are the ones that told Samantha about ESP! She’s gotten to swim in Sandy Creek, make long lasting friendships, and learn new skills!
Samantha’s buddy, Denali, told us all about how Samantha had joy in every moment this week. She said, “It was especially hard for her to say goodbye to all the new friends she became so close with. Her mom already has her on the waitlist to come to another week in July!”
Camp Crew Fosters Friendship
Stephanie is a familiar face to ESP as she has been coming here for a long time to all of our Club events and enjoys the time she gets to spend with friends here. She has made a lifelong friend Sam, who is also a part of the crew this year with her. Sam and Stephanie enjoy working on crew together because for them, it’s an “added bonus” as Stephanie describes it.
They love experiencing all of camp in a new, unique way that is unmatched to any other summer they’ve been here. They love experiencing all of camp in a new, unique way that is unmatched to any other summer they’ve been here. From experiencing adventure camp for the first time, to leading their friends in a Flag song, they’ve grown in immeasurable ways.
The pair have been friends for a while and Stephanie says she loves to text him funny messages about what happened at camp that day. Sam exemplified awesome leadership skills as he directed everyone in how to make a lei which was one of his favorite parts of this week! Both of them will be back for more paradise next week as returning crew members. Paradise is better because of our crew.
Volunteers Make Paradise Possible
This week, we had a brand new volunteer crew group that led the way to an amazing week! Emory, a volunteer that was a part of our leadership experience program, said her favorite moment was when her camper wouldn’t get out of their car at Welcome Wagon because everyone was dancing. Her buddy, Emory, took one look at her and started dancing all the way up to her car to get her out! Emory said, “I might have looked a little funny, but I didn’t care at all especially when Alexandria started dancing too. It was like one big party!”
Staff Spotlight: Alex Bruggeman
“Two summers ago I stumbled across ESP by accident- little did I know how God would use this place to change my life,” says Bikini Bottom Unit Leader, Alex Bruggeman. She started out volunteering in the middle unit back in 2018 and ended up spending her entire summer at ESP! Now, she’s back as a unit leader for the middle unit with all of her closest friends! Alex is amazed by the growth of this community and of our participants. Her very first buddy at summer camp was Mariah, and ironically enough, she was in her unit last week for paradise! Alex was overjoyed by the sight of Mariah because it felt like a full circle of fulfillment for her.
Summer Camp Gives us Life
You won’t understand the hype of summer camp until you experience it for yourself. Whether that’s seeing a picture of one of our participants riding a horse for the first time, or seeing them dive head first into Sandy Creek, there are small moments that make summer camp so serene. We live for these magical moments, and they fuel our hearts with passion for living life to the fullest!