Letter from Parker, former camper at Camp Boggy Creek in Florida

When I was first diagnosed with arthritis it was really tough. There were kids at school who made fun of me and there were things that I loved doing that I could no longer do. But then one summer, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to camp for a week. I responded “No” because I felt as if I wouldn’t be able to do anything at camp, but my mom explained to me that this is a camp specifically for kids with diseases like me. I was still hesitant to go because I was afraid to be away from my parents that long. But my mom made the decision that I was going to even though I didn’t want to and I’m so glad she did. At camp, for the first time I didn’t feel alone and I felt normal for a week. Everybody at camp was there for me and I did things that I thought I’d never do again. And best of all when I got to be in too much pain there is an on site mini hospital I could go to, to get medicine.

My favorite memory from camp was from my last year as a camper. I was climbing a rock wall and I got half way up and just couldn’t go anymore. I was in so much pain I started crying, but below me were all of my fellow cabin mates cheering me on. They were encouraging me and telling me which rocks to grab. And with their help I made it up that rock wall! Whenever I tell people this story I tell them that it wasn’t just me climbing that wall it was my whole cabin. Because without their support I would of never made it up that wall. And that’s something that you will only experience at camp.

Camp is very important to me. Right before I went to camp for the first time I was depressed and I didn’t feel like myself. But camp lifted my spirits and brought back the happy cheery person I am. Camp is a place where you can feel normal for a week and that’s why it is so important. My mom told me that camp saved my life it made me into the positive person I am today. Camp is the reason I am so involved with the Arthritis Foundation.

I don’t know how to prepare you for camp. It’s an experience like no other. You just need to be ready for the craziness of it all, and don’t forget to bring lots of clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

Have lots of fun at your camp,

Parker