We have asked some of our friends from Camp Banyan to guest write a blog series all about their experiences at Camp Banyan 2017!

So, without further ado, get ready to travel back in time to our fabulous summer!

Camp Banyan 2017 – Review – Pt. 1 – by Rachel Krolak

“It’s hard to wrap up the Camp Banyan experience… 6 weeks of amazing highs, testing lows, and entirely new experiences for the campers and the volunteers/teachers alike. I was one of the lucky few to experience camp from varying perspectives: I got to observe from the background, jump in and be entirely involved, be a teacher, and see the camp world through the eyes of a camper – my brother. Each of these roles gave me a different thing to take with me. While exact experiences are harder for me to recount, what follows are general themes I took away from the camp experience.  

Themes I came away with…

As an observer: Hope and Love. There’s nothing like watching these campers give their all, learn new things and support each other. The love was unconditional and the potential was untapped. These guys are unstoppable, and I wish the world was more like this community.

As a participant: Childlike Wonder and Pursuit of Learning. Getting messy was essentially a daily occurrence, all for the good of learning something new. And it worked… and we all learned more about each other in the process! Patience was key for all involved. 

As a teacher: Simplicity and Perseverance. I have had the honor to work with many of the campers as a musical theatre teacher for over a year now. Keeping things simple while continuing to push through to the next task/level/goal only builds you up, one step at a time. 

As a relative: Confidence, Companionship. All of us need friends; people to whom we relate. Sometimes, when you have a disability, its more difficult to come by another person you feel really understands you. One of the coolest thing about Camp Banyan is that the campers are given the opportunity to explore appropriate ways to handle social situations in a controlled environment.

My brother was also given the chance to share his singing expertise with all of the campers, which was amazing for his confidence. He was given the spotlight for just a minute… his skills were recognized as good and this meant he was worth listening to. This doesn’t happen often and it’s so important that he understands that he – and what he does – is valued. 

Final thoughts: Camp was wonderful. I’m so thankful for the campers – I have learned so much from them!

-Rachel”