Hey Hands to Love! My name is Amanda Abes and I have had the honor of being a Family Pal at Hand Camp for the past two years. I am currently a 2nd year Occupational Therapy student at the Medical University of South Carolina in beautiful Charleston, SC, but I am counting down the days to when I can return to Florida and volunteer at my third Hand Camp. My experience at Hand Camp has a had a profound impact on my journey to becoming an occupational therapist. My first year as a Family Pal I came in to the weekend knowing little about what I chose for my future career, and left a more confident, experienced want-to-be OT. I spent the weekend learning so much from my Family Pal camper, volunteer OTs, Ruthie, and even my peers who became some of my closest friends and favorite study buddies throughout my undergraduate years at the University of Florida. Hand Camp taught me so much about how to embrace and celebrate differences that others may have and turn a difference into such a positive experience. I will always remember these values when working with my future patients, and will always have a special place in my heart for my patients with upper limb differences.

As a person who has been going to sleep-away camp since I was 8 years old, I have a love for many camp activities. I have always especially loved archery, so I was excited to do archery with my camper, Fallyn, during Hand Camp 2019. At the start of the activity, Fallyn and I quickly realized that the regular bow and arrows were too heavy and too demanding for Fallyn’s size and strength, so we had to adapt to the situation. We were able to use a stand that turned the bow on its side to allow Fallyn to use both arms to shoot her arrows. Fallyn was so excited to be able to hit the target, and her smile and laughs brought me so much joy throughout the rest of the activity and the weekend as a whole. I am thankful for my time with Fallyn and cannot wait to reunite with her soon!

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and I am looking forward to seeing you all soon!