As I walked up to the Hand Camp volunteer registration table for the first time, I was full of excitement and nerves. When my lanyard was handed to me, I was told that I would be the family pal for the Posada Family. I anxiously began asking myself questions: Do I know what I’m doing? Will my family like me? My friends had told me that Hand camp was a life-changing experience and that they made a special connection with their family, and that is exactly what I wanted. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long to calm my nerves and get my questions answered. As soon as I met the Posada family, I told them how excited I was to meet them, but also confessed how nervous I was because it was my first time at Hand Camp. They welcomed me with open arms, we bonded over Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, and we quickly began exploring all the activities and opportunities set up by the incredible Hands to Love team, therapists, and program leaders. I already felt like a part of the family – not just a part of the Posada family, but the Hands to Love family.

Possibly one of my favorite parts of Hand camp is being able to support and watch all of the campers as they conquer new challenges and adapt to find a path that works for them. As each camper reaches the top of the ropes course or hit the target at archery, you can hear cheers from all across Camp Crystal Lake. There aren’t any words to describe how inspiring it is seeing people from all across the country and from different backgrounds celebrate each other for their unique differences and abilities.