Thursday, August 6, 2015

To the Parents of our Able Campers,

I have had heart warming conversations with a few of you, met many of y'all briefly, and still have yet to shake others' hands. I am one of the 100+ volunteer staffers who spend the week by your child's side when you drop them off at Camp Able. As a counselor, my job is to make sure every moment at camp is enjoyed with a smile stretching from ear to ear.

Although many counselors do, I personally have no professional training in caring for those with diverse abilities. It is something that has captured my heart, to my own surprise despite my chronic lack of patience, with no intention of releasing it. I am not qualified, or particularly special in any way. I simply got lucky when I was given the opportunity to serve at Camp Able. Many of you have thanked me, and other people from the outside looking in tell me what an "incredible and selfless thing" I do. I'd love to honestly say that I do it solely for the joy of the campers, but that simply is not true. I have returned year after year because your children make my life so much brighter and worth while.

The laughter and words we share are strong enough to pull me out of the deepest pit of sadness, anger or frustration I may find myself in during the rest of the year. I often catch myself remembering moments, watching videos, or looking at pictures from camp...especially when I have trouble paying attention in class. I'm almost positive my friends are going to duct tape my mouth shut the next time they hear me talk about the past summers at Camp Able or how much I am looking forward to the upcoming one. Oh, well! Sorry not sorry.

Each of your children have filled my heart to the brim with pure love, affection, and happiness. There is no way I would be who, or where I am today without the everlasting impact they have made on my life. At this point, I genuinely believe that my heart is covered with each campers fingerprint, as they have held it so many times over the past few years. I am infinitely grateful to all of you and your families for trusting the Camp Able staff and I with your precious children. I can only hope they have half of the experience we do during our short time together. The campers do so much more for us and our hearts than we could ever dream of returning to them. Your children hold the purest love and happiness I have ever encountered, and because of them, I have had the privilege of holding those things too.

On behalf of the staff who have the opportunity to serve and enjoy your children for one magical week every summer, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are already counting down the days until the next time we get to see y'all!

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

-Rabindranath Tagore

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Maira Gall