Georgia Magazine - July 2017 - 17
COURTESY CAMP TWIN LAKES
Left: Campers at Kids Serve II enjoy spending time with therapy dog Charlie Brown. Kids
Serve II is a camp for kids with a parent who
is currently serving or has served in the U.S.
military. Above: Kirsty (left) and Kyra sharpen
their improv skills at Camp Courage, a camp
for kids with craniofacial disorders.
silly songs, tie-dying and panning for gold. She has kept
all of the friendship bracelets given to her by camp
counselors-one for each year. She found a best friend
and a caring community at camp.
"Cancer has taught me to value life more. I've lost
friends that I was close to, and that gets harder as you
get older. Things can change in an instant," she says.
"But Camp Sunshine has taught me that sometimes you
need to get away from reality. You need some fun and
support. There will always be a need for that."
The growth of Camp Twin Lakes
COURTESY CAMP TWIN LAKES
On the surface, Camp Twin Lakes, camptwinlakes.
org, looks like a traditional summer camp. There are
Counselor Morgan Shepherd gives Zachary an
up-close look at a bass caught at Camp Krazy Legs,
which serves kids with spina bifida.
lakes, canoes, cabins, campfires, a pool, a horsebackriding ring and a zip line.
"But when you pull back the veil, you'll see that the
facilities are built to support kids with disabilities," says
Dan Mathews, chief operating officer of Camp Twin
"We work with our 60 organizational partners who
host [their own] camps here and adapt our camp for their
particular needs. Our goal is to have the least-restrictive
environment possible so that every child can participate
and achieve success."
For example, staff members used to have to climb a
ladder to lift children in wheelchairs on and off the zip
line. Now there's a hydraulic lift and body harness that
safely raises and lowers children. The result? One young
camper says it all: "365 days a year, I can't walk, but at
Camp Twin Lakes, I can fly."
Children attending Camp Kudzu learn ways to manage their Type 1 diabetes at age 7 or 8 so that at age 9
they can go to a Girl Scout or church camp. At Camp
Braveheart, young heart-transplant patients compare scars
and stories, preparing them to move on with their lives.
Crohn's can be an embarrassing disease, because kids
often feel the need to explain why they have to go to
the bathroom so much. At Camp Oasis, sponsored by the
Colitis Foundation of America, everyone has similar problems. They can share experiences and solutions.
"We want kids to learn skills that they can use the
other 51 weeks out of the year," Mathews says. "A
kid who overcomes his fear of the ropes course can
apply that to other scary times in his life and think,
'I'm stronger than I think.'"
He's proudest of the relationships formed and
the positive community that Camp Twin Lakes has
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org