About five years ago, I was asked to submit a little something to the Hawks Hope Blog of the University of Kansas. The entire article can be found HERE. For today’s #FlashbackFriday, I wanted to share a portion of that blog as we fondly look back at the early years of founding Camp Encourage. What once was a dream in 2006 has shaped into a masterpiece I am honored and extremely grateful to be a part of.
“I received a call from a parent of one of my previous campers that the nonprofit that hosted Camp Determination would be closing its doors due to lack of funding. The family was crushed, fearing that the key positive experience her son had through the year, the one he counted down to, was no longer available. She begged that I consider taking action to keep an overnight camp for youth with ASD available in Kansas City. I was a new mom, loved my part time gig as an Autism Specialist and although my heart was broken for the loss of Camp Determination, I hung up the phone with tears in my eyes and a deep desire to help, yet also had absolute resistance to take action.
My resistance softened after thinking it through, receiving additional phone calls, and having the support of my friend and colleague, Dr. Kaye Otten. Together, we listened to prior campers and parents say that no one could “take the reigns” and bring a camp to life without knowing the numerous details involved in overseeing the lofty task. Together, we thought about the lives changed through the camp, reflected on our own childhood summer camp experiences, and decided we couldn’t sit it out. Hand in hand, we created By-Laws, developed a Board of Directors, and cofounded a nonprofit, Camp Encourage. Never would I have imagined that we could have jumped in and taken care of all of the ground-up details, but we did. Faith, hope, and a strong belief in the power of something very good will do that to you. And, never would I have imagined that I would step away from working in the school environment. Yet, I did and HERE I AM. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Blog Post by Kelly Lee, Executive Director of Camp Encourage