As a past recipient of a Camp for All Kids campership, I want to thank you for your support and enthusiasm. Without you, camp would not have been possible for me or for the more than 1,000 other campership recipients over the past 25 years. I’m writing to encourage you to donate once again to make camp possible for more kids like me!
When I returned to camp for an alumni reunion this past summer, I realized, after all these years, that camp saved my life. It changed my life for the better and I wonder who I would be if I had not been able to go to camp.
Where I’m from, camp is a girl’s dream. I grew up in Chicago’s Marshall Field Garden. Our “summer camp” was at a community center within the complex. Programming consisted mostly of free food and drinks. There was no lake for learning to swim, sail or water ski. We didn’t have a climbing wall or go horseback riding. We already knew each other and we had little opportunity to make new friends.
When I first stepped off the camp bus in 2004, I thought, Wow! This place is beautiful; no one at home will believe how real it is. But I was scared. I was afraid to leave my family for a month and live with people I didn’t know. I trusted no one but my best friend who came to camp with me. I was a hard shell to crack as a camper. But the camp directors never gave up on me and never stopped inviting me back.
Camp helped me grow into a better person. I learned how to respect other people’s feelings and opinions. I learned how to trust and love others who aren’t family. I learned that teamwork makes the dream work and I gained so much confidence. Whether it was performing in talent shows, getting in front of people to dance, sing, or act silly, I learned to have confidence to thrive, even in the world outside of camp. I’m thankful for all my days as a camper, counselor, and now as an alumna.
After graduating from high school, and armed with the self-confidence I developed at camp, I set off to Los Angeles where I auditioned and was accepted into the American Academy of Performing Arts.
So again, I ask myself, where would I be without camp? Would I be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel like I can now without being too scared to get through the darkness? I don’t think so. I would be scared to try new things and meet new people. I would be socially awkward with no thoughts of hope for my dreams. I am thankful every day that camp came into my life and helped me see the beauty in it.
I wish all the kids in my neighborhood could have this life-changing experience. Camp is a place where little girls and boys learn from each other and grow WITH each other. I know I needed that.
This past summer, Camp for All Kids sent 60 deserving kids from under-served communities to five partner camps where they were able to develop new skills and friendships, just like I did from 2004-2011. Today, we are asking you to help provide this experience to more campers for the summer of 2017 with a generous end-of-the-year gift.
Thank you in advance for your continued commitment to Camp for All Kids, for providing boys and girls the opportunity to reach their potential, and for promoting and facilitating diversity at these five amazing summer camps.
Lakisha’s early years at camp
Lakisha’s later years at camp…as one of the oldest campers and as a counselor
Camp for All Kids Campership Recipient, 2004-2011