Emily has been coming to Joy for 11 consecutive years, not even her family’s brief relocation to Oklahoma could separate her from her friends at Joy. Emily attributes her development of self respect to the lessons taught to her by former Camp Joy counselors: “The most influential people in my life are these counselors. They taught me self-respect and respect for other people.”

Originally coming to Camp Joy through Camp Wekandu (a camp for juvenile arthritis), Emily decided that she wanted to become a CIT with the Fostering Success program in order to “make the experience special for the campers and make them feel at home.” Emily’s desire to create a home environment for the campers comes from her own experience as a camper and the level of comfort she felt with other campers and counselors.

“I used to get made fun of because of my condition and taking medication which sent me into a depression but then I came to camp and gained confidence and the ability to be myself and be happy.” The experiences Emily has had at Camp Joy have inspired her to become a middle school teacher when she gets older because she wants to “reach out to people and be seen as a role model”. Emily has developed so many close relationships through Camp Joy that she is left with one lingering question: “I’m still trying to figure out why we don’t call it Camp Family!”

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