How George Discovered the Transformative Magic of Easter Seals Camp
Imagine sending your child to a summer camp that would completely transform their life. That’s exactly what happened to 11-year-old George when he attended Easter Seals Ontario’s Camp Woodeden last summer. As a child with a physical disability, George had never experienced a fully accessible summer camp before. George’s mom, Erin, had signed him up for a session at Easter Seals camp, not knowing what to expect. But by the end of the summer, George’s world had expanded in ways they had never imagined.
“I was looking forward to it because I had never been to camp or overnight camp. I had lots of fun,” George said, his eyes lighting up at the memory. “It was different from what I would normally do in the summer.”
At Easter Seals camp, George discovered a newfound sense of independence and belonging. Every day was filled with exciting activities and new adventures, from playing in the pool with his new friends to staying overnight in a yurt. George even participated in his first-ever triathlon, an accomplishment that filled him with pride and self-assurance. “We also got to try the high ropes, which was pretty cool,” George said with a grin.
The fully accessible nature of Camp Woodeden was also a huge draw for George, given his rare condition, Freidrech’s Ataxia, which affects his coordination, balance, and energy. “It was really cool because I’ve never been to a place as accessible,” he said. “They have handlebars everywhere and bigger doorways. And everything was just really cool. I have a walker, and it was so much easier with the bigger doorways.”
While the accessible activities and facilities were certainly a highlight for George, it was the new friendships he made that truly made his experience at Camp Woodeden unforgettable. “The most fun part was meeting new people. I met some new friends. I kept in touch with one of them,” shared George. He and his mom had recently travelled to Cambridge to spend the weekend with George’s favourite camp friend. “We were in the same cabin, and then we just started talking to each other. And yeah, we became good friends,” George explained.
In addition to the friendships he formed, George was also touched by the kindness of the camp counsellors. “The counsellors were super nice. My favourite was Daisy. She was just fun to talk with about different stuff. And she was fun to hang out with,” he shared. The counsellors played an essential role in making George feel welcome and included at camp, and their support helped him build his confidence and feel a sense of belonging.
Your support helps Easter Seals Ontario’s camps offer safe and inclusive spaces where children with disabilities can be themselves, explore their abilities, and enjoy the magic of camp.
Erin also recalled a special moment from George’s time at camp. “One of George’s favourite memories was dancing in the rain with his friends,” she shared. “It was their last big gala night. They had a big rainstorm, but there was no lightning, so it was safe to stay outside. The counsellors took them out, and they danced the night away in the pouring rain … and it sounds like they just had the best time ever.”
This moment perfectly captures the magic of Easter Seals Ontario’s camps. It’s a place where kids like George can forget their worries and just be kids. It’s a place where they can form new friendships, try new things, and make unforgettable memories.
For George and his family, Easter Seals camp was truly life changing. As a parent, sending your child away to camp for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially when your child has a physical disability. “We were a freaking out a bit the first week,” Erin admitted. “We emailed him every day, but obviously he couldn’t get in touch with us … we were so anxious to pick him up. But when we got there the following weekend, George was literally glowing and full of smiles. He didn’t want to leave.”
In fact, George enjoyed camp so much that his mom signed him up for a second session. “When I sent him the second week, I was nothing but happy and not worried at all. So I’m sure I’ll feel the same way this summer,” Erin shared. She also added that George had lost his voice at the end of both sessions from cheering so loudly for his cabin – yelling “blue is best!” – during the nightly campfires.
The impact of camp on George’s life has been undeniable, and he can’t wait to experience it all over again. “He’s been counting down the days since he got home from camp last summer,” said Erin. “When he came back, he was just really confident in himself … when you have a physical disability, you don’t often get the opportunity to be in a large group of people that all have similar challenges or similar strengths to you. And, for my husband and myself, we just noticed a big increase in his confidence when he came back from Easter Seals camp, which is a really nice thing to see. Because with that, you know, just comes a kind of happiness. It was really fantastic from a parent’s perspective.”
For George, Easter Seals camp was more than just a fun summer experience – it was a safe and welcoming space where he could thrive, build his confidence, and make lasting memories. And the impact of this experience continues to resonate long after camp is over. “What George gained from the experience is well beyond what I would have ever thought I was giving him by sending him to an overnight camp,” Erin shared. “It was huge for our family, and I can’t express enough how much it means to us.”
As a donor, you have the power to transform the lives of children with physical disabilities, just like George. With your support, Easter Seals Ontario’s camps can continue providing safe and welcoming spaces where children with disabilities can feel free to be themselves, discover their potential, and experience the joy of camp. Imagine the look on a child’s face when they accomplish something they never thought possible, or the happiness they feel when they dance in the rain with their new friends. Your donation can make these moments possible. So please, consider donating today and help make a difference in the lives of children who deserve to experience the magic of Easter Seals camp.