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LETTER - Caring hearts makes camp a special place

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Activities are a huge part of Anderson Woods summer camp. A not-for-profit summer camp for those with special needs, the things that campers do and take part in are often the heart and soul of camp.

However, unlike your typical summer camp, Anderson Woods puts a large emphasis on the steps that lead up to an activity. A common and popular slogan that is thrown around by staff is that the importance is in the “process not the product.”

This includes anything from learning how to set the table, making the bed, and gathering the proper clothes for shower time. Each of these vital steps lead to the eventual eating of a meal, taking an afternoon nap, and cleaning up after a full day of activity.

The staff at Anderson Woods believes this harnesses a greater feeling of independence that the campers learn to take with them when they return home.

A good example of “process not product” came during the camps fifth weekly session as Kayla and Stephanie were walking up to the camps high pasture for an evening of watermelon and singing songs. It’s a lengthy hike that both campers and staff alike learn to prepare for and often see as an obstacle on the way to a very fun activity. Stephanie, who often likes to do things her own way walked with her counselor, Kayla, all the way to the top of the hill and enjoyed the process of the hike almost more than the actual activity itself. She enjoyed looking at all the trees and counting the rocks and as they were passing the barn, she took special note of the horses that were grazing in the grass.

Stephanie got a huge smile on her face as they petted the horses that were on their way to the high pasture. “It was so much fun hiking with Stephanie and seeing her appreciate the smaller things that the camp has to offer. It was definitely the best part of my day and I’m sure it was hers too,” said Kayla, a third-year counselor at Anderson Woods.

These kind of stories are not uncommon at Anderson Woods and are always recollected at the end of the day when they look back on all they did. These are the small moments that make camp unique and why campers come back year after year. It’s more than a fun way to spend a week or two during the summer, it’s a life experience that increases their capacity to learn and grow; and unlike a painted rock or pine-cone bird feeder, these memories can never be lost. Anderson Woods, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation serving people with disabilities. Inquiries for becoming a camper, staff, or volunteer are welcome. All applications can be found on our website: www.andersonwoods.org.

Anderson Woods is funded in part by The United Way of Perry County and other generous individuals, trusts, foundations, and corporations. Donations and campers sponsorships are always welcome.

MEGAN GATWOOD
Anderson Woods