April 1st is always an exciting day for our organization. Not because it’s April Fool’s Day and we love pranks, but because it’s the day camper applications open for BC Easter Seals Camps. We’ve talked to campers and parents who stay up until midnight so they can press download the second applications are available, and it never fails that applications will start flying through the door of our office the next day. It’s an incredible thing to see the eagerness and excitement that so genuinely fills our campers year after year. It’s a testament to just how important camp really is. It’s more than just ‘fun’, it’s a truly unique place that gives kids with disabilities the opportunities they deserve to learn and grow independently and discover their full potential.
Last week we had a pretty special application come in. Paul came in with an application for his 20th year as an Easter Seals camper. Paul has come to camp every summer since he was six years old, making him one of our longest returning campers. In that time, Paul has done it all. He started as a regular camper, he then joined the Leaders In Transition program for two years, and now he continues to come back each summer for the Young Adult program. Not only that, but Paul has been an advocate for Easter Seals BC/Yukon for many years, participating in events and talking about the importance of Easter Seals Camps.
Now as a young adult, Paul holds down two jobs, working at White Spot and at the Langley Events Centre, plus he does lots of volunteer work on the side. He attributes his time at camp as playing a large role in learning to be independent, as he says it’s a place where he has always been treated just like everyone else and he isn’t judged based on his disability. When asked about his favorite camp activities his answer has stayed pretty well the same over the years – he loves playing hockey, going on the big swing and pulling pranks. Paul happens to be a die hard hockey fan, making his job at the Langley Events Centre pretty perfect. While Paul went to Camp Shawnigan for 3 years, it’s Camp Squamish that is his second home, having been there for 17 of his 20 years as a camper.
– Congratulations Paul on your 20 year milestone, we hope this summer is even better than the last 19!
*If you have a child with a physical and/or cognitive disability and want to learn more about BC Easter Seals Camps go to www.eastersealscamps.ca or call our office at 604-873-1865 or toll free at 1-800-818-4483.