The Longterm Impact of Summer Camp

by Jen Lee Reeves on July 26, 2016 · 2 comments

in #LiveUnlimited, Sponsored

This sponsored post is brought to you by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. All opinions and experiences are my own!

MDA Camp counselorSummer camps are full of traditions. There are activities and crafts that are core to the experience. Friendship bracelets are one of those traditions. I had forgotten all about them until I watched camp counselor, Kennedi, with a huge collection of colorful string.

I met Kennedi on the second day of a week-long MDA Summer Camp. If you looked across the cafeteria, you could see many of the campers had arms full of hand-made bracelets. There are a lot of classic experiences wrapped around what most people would consider a non-traditional camp. That’s something that might surprise you about MDA Summer Camp. Kids do what everyone else does; they just might have to do it a little differently.

MDA Summer Camp counselor helperKennedi would know that better than most. She is a first-year camp counselor after spending seven years as a camper. As an incoming college freshman, her camp experiences helped her pick a future career that focuses on service for kids like herself: Kids with a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy or a related life-threatening disease. Kennedi needed to wear leg braces in the past, and her experience with orthotics is a big reason why she wants to go into the industry. She even had a chance to spend time working with an internship at a Shriners Hospital. Her time at Shriners gave her enough knowledge to know how to help a camper make her uncomfortable leg braces feel better.

MDA bracelet traditionDuring any downtime, I watched Kennedi create another friendship bracelet. She also helped a camper start her bracelet to coordinate with the five already on her arm. Kennedi told me how being an MDA camp counselor after seven years as a camper is a surreal experience. But camp was an opportunity for her to show the kids it is possible to work hard, follow a healthy lifestyle and grow up to become a counselor. That goal isn’t possible for every kid. It depends on the diagnosis. MDA camp is full of kids living with different types of life-threatening diseases that take away muscle strength and mobility. Some kids need to wear braces; others use walkers or wheelchairs. Some kids have trouble breathing. “Some kids use respiratory equipment because their neuromuscular disease affects the muscles responsible for breathing.” Every single camper is treated with respect and given the chance to experience everything you’d expect in a summer camp. That includes riding horses and pranking campers in the other cabins. I heard about pranks that included gift wrapping everything inside a cabin – inside and out! That’s impressive work.

Camp counselors like Kennedi worked one-on-one with each of the 49 kids who took part at the MDA Summer Camp I attended. No one feels different. Everyone knows they have the support they need at camp to just be kids.

We can all support MDA and make it possible for even more kids to participate in one of almost 75 regional camps across the United States. It takes staff and volunteers more than 250 days a year to plan a week of camp so families can send their kids at no cost. It’s worth it. I’ve seen it with my own eyes!

Here are some simple ways you can help:

  • From now until July 31st, share how you #LiveUnlimited by uploading a photo at mda.org/LiveUnlimited. A generous sponsor will donate $5 to MDA for every photo shared.
  • Stay reminded daily to #LiveUnlimited by wearing Endorphin Warrior bracelets (where $6 of each sale goes to MDA) or t-shirts (where $7 of each t-shirt sale goes to MDA).
  • Give to MDA to help support to help send more kids to Summer Camp as well as fund research and advocacy efforts aimed at accelerating treatments that could slow down the effects of muscular dystrophy and eventually, one day, cure it.
  • You can also take the time to share #LiveUnlimited stories like Kennedi’s. Let more people see the impact MDA Summer Camp has on so many kids across the country. They are defying limits left and right!


I’m so honored MDA gave me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful volunteers and kids at camp. I hope the stories I share help make an impact so more kids can attend next year!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Christine Koh July 26, 2016 at 10:50 am

AMAZING. Thank you for sharing this story about Kennedi — seriously, these counselors just made me want to be a better human being!

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