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My Experience at Youth Camp

By Nadia Goodwin, YEP Camper

My mother had asked my prosthetist if he knew any camps for children with limb difference and limb loss. I was fourteen when my mother originally filled out the application for Amputee Coalition Youth Camp. Unfortunately, Covid hit, and the camp was canceled. My first time as a camper in 2022 was memorable. We had a couple Paralympians come and talk to us. They opened a Q&A and met us on our level. It was very interesting to have these professional athletes to sit down with us and encourage us that our differences do not have to stop us from accomplishing whatever we put our minds to. I even made tons of friends during my time in camp, and I actually keep in constant contact with one of them. We have plans to meet up during the summer after school ends. Overall, I consider myself a very boring person, although I love to read anything I can get my arms on. I recently got into oil painting. I enjoy playing my cello on days when school doesn’t succeed in drowning me in homework.

During my first time at camp in 2022, my mother and I traveled to Palms Desert, California during August. It was very eye opening the following morning when I went to breakfast and saw so many kids who had limb differences and limb loss. Previously, I had only gone to one camp before for upper limb differences and limb loss. Amputee Coalition Youth Camp was the first time I met other kids who had a lower limb difference and limb loss. This was really important for me because at the previous camp I always felt like an outcast even amongst the other campers, because I didn’t just have an upper limb difference. I had lower limb differences too. I like to joke around that my situation is very dramatic because my diagnosis is a sentence. Multiple malformation syndrome with limb defect as major feature. So, interacting with kids and camp counselors who had upper and lower limb differences and limb loss was eye-opening. For once in my life, I didn’t feel like an outsider. I had a community. I immediately decided to come back to camp the next year in 2023. When applying, I was given the opportunity to either come back as a camper one more time or become a leader in training (L.I.T.). I had to say yes to becoming a L.I.T. It was always my dream since going to these camps to become a counselor. Being a camper was amazing but I now wanted to play a role in being on the other side of the field. I wanted to be a mentor like how the camp counselors and L.I.T.’s were for me back in 2022. I felt like I had a perspective that I could share to help the campers know that they are not alone nor outsiders. That there is a community that is opened to them.