Picture this: a 12-year-old girl, responsible for caring for her family, surrounded by chaos and commotion, all while trying to grasp the fact that her mother has passed away. She is lost without a support system, and it seems like nothing will ever get better. One may say that she’s lost her purpose, her strength, and the thing that defines her most: her joy. However, this story doesn’t end on a sad note. She finally finds the place where she feels most at home, and it even embraces the word that she always used to define herself: Camp Joy. At this home, she finds her passions, her friends who become family, and she finds a purpose, a place that sets her on the path of success for the rest of her life.
This girl that was just described is me, Maggie Verst. As an 18-year-old girl looking back on her past six years at Camp Joy, I can honestly say that my life has been changed for the better because of this place. Transitioning to college for me was hard. I was leaving behind my sister who is my rock, and moving to a new place where I knew few people. There were several times during my first semester where I felt like giving up on my dreams of being a teacher, but then every time this thought passed my mind, camp was always the reason I came out stronger. Whether it was my Fostering Success campers who were the light in the dark every month I got to see them, or the lessons from my counselors I have written on my dorm room wall, camp is the reason I succeed, and will continue to succeed in the future. I am amazed at how much I grew as a person this past summer as a counselor at Joy, and have seen my growth and how strong I have become through working the Fostering Success Program at camp. I no longer feel like that scared little 12 year old girl, wondering how she was going to run an entire household by herself. I am strong, I am empathetic, and I am unapologetically me, all because of the magic of summer camp. So thank you, Camp Joy, for truly changing the lives of those you serve, because six years later, you still continue to change mine. – Maggie Verst
Read our post on Maggie from 2014!