Photo courtesy of Cade Sanders '19
The magic I experienced working at Camp PALS is difficult to articulate. This wonderful place allows everyone, campers and counselors alike, to be themselves for a week.
During the summers of 2017 and 2018, I was a counselor at three different Camp PALS, two in San Francisco and one in New York. Camp PALS is a week-long summer camp that pairs individuals with Down syndrome with counselors one-on-one.
In New York City, my buddy and I participated in several different activities, experiencing the entire Big Apple. We went on a cruise down the Hudson River, rode roller coasters on Coney Island, and sang karaoke in Koreatown.
Camp PALS fosters tremendous friendships. The San Francisco Camp PALS, for example, was very exciting because I was paired with the same camper both years, and we formed a strong friendship. We constantly talk after camp season, and our friendship grows as we grow up and become more understanding of each other’s lives.
Camp PALS staple activities are karaoke night, beach day, and the semi-formal dance. Every Camp PALS also participated in the Congratulations Project, an initiative in which members of the PALS family write letters to new families in the Down syndrome community. These letters are designed to inspire, encourage, welcome, and, most importantly, congratulate new parents and siblings of a child recently diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Camp PALS is an extraordinary program and will forever hold a special place in my heart. The program has even inspired me to become an ambassador for this great organization, hoping to recruit more members and to raise additional funds.