Over the years, Camp Boggy Creek has helped thousands of children discover themselves in a safe place where every challenge is by choice and all efforts are celebrated. Our programs may look different this year, but they are needed now more than ever. The reasons are many and the following is one reason why.
Patrick was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis when he was 9 years old. He and his family first attended Camp Boggy Creek at an Arthritis / Rheumatic Family Retreat in the Spring of 2005. He remembers joking with his Mom, “I guess I could come back for a week in the summer.” And, not only did he come back for a few summer camp sessions and family retreats, he also graduated from the Leaders in Training program, was hired for Summer Staff, and has volunteered many, many hours since.
When Patrick was younger, he told his parents that he wanted to become a doctor. He shares, “At first I thought it was a great answer for my parents when they kept asking me what I wanted to be.” However, after many visits to doctors’ offices and then meeting other doctors at Camp, Patrick became very aware of the enormous impact that doctors have with their patients. After he was accepted into University of Florida’s Accelerated Med Program, his journey began to follow his heart and help other people as many have helped him.
There are many wonderful memories that Patrick has of Camp Boggy Creek, but his first time as a member of the Summer Staff team was the most unforgettable and life changing. Patrick shares, “Witnessing the lifelong friendships that the kids make, or seeing for the first time that they aren’t the only ones whose joints hurt, or talking with a child about having someone else’s heart in their body, this gives a perspective unlike anything I have ever known.” His favorite story was when he worked at the Tower Activity (rock wall / zip line) and was helping a camper to climb the rock wall. “She had no movement in her legs and was very weak in her upper extremities. We set her up safe and secure in the harness, but she was having great difficulty pulling herself up. She also did not want to give up. We asked her to count to three and then on three, she would pull up as hard as she could. The counselors and I would pull on her harness lines just a little bit. Her cabin mates figured out was happening and increased their cheering until she reached the top.” It was a defining moment for Patrick (and everyone else there that morning).
After graduating from the University of Florida Medical School this past Spring, Patrick was matched for his Residency at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), an internationally renowned research university. He will be at UAB for the next 3 years, and he looks forward to coming back to Camp Boggy Creek to volunteer at the place where it all started.
As you have just read about Patrick’s journey, there are many children learning that they have a chronic or life-threatening illness. Each will experience a range of emotions. They will wonder where they fit in and ask why they can’t do the same things their friends do. Their childhood will be filled with hospital stays, doctor’s visits, medications, and isolation. But, like Patrick, they will learn about Camp Boggy Creek and discover they aren’t alone.
This is so much more than just a camp – it is a place where no one is excluded and where dreams can come true. Patrick and many more campers like him made their dreams come true. Can we count on you to give a gift today? Your support will ensure that Camp Boggy Creek is that special place for our campers and families. Your gift today will keep the promise of camp for tomorrow.