“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens, not by what life brings us but the attitude we bring to life.” (Camp No Limits Motto - Author unknown)
A few weeks ago, approximately twenty local Boy Scouts (and a few parents) from Troop 132 in Springbrook forwent the family gatherings, cookouts, and sleeping in that normally occurs during a long holiday weekend.
Instead, my fellow scouts and I spent our days and nights assisting leaders at Camp No Limits in Northeast, Maryland.
Camp No Limits is associated with the No Limits Foundation.
Founded in 2004, it is a non-profit organization that provides camps across the United States for families of children with limb loss.
The camp offers action packed activities, and is a support group providing education and mentorship for families with children of missing limbs.
It affords the children a chance to be “kids” to explore and participate in adventures that might otherwise be challenging for them.
The camp provides workshops, arts and crafts, many outdoor activities and learning opportunities.
The best part is no-one stares or bullies and the focus is on the ability – not the disability.
The children and their families just have fun and learn they are not disabled, but rather, differently abled.
Volunteering from 5:00am until sometimes 10:00pm at night, the boy scouts learned the values of hard work and helping others during this special weekend camp.
Many of the scouts were return volunteers for a second year in a row.
The repeat volunteers knew they were in for a long, tiring weekend, but were thrilled to be able to help these children and their families.
We learned quickly that volunteering at this camp is fun and motivating.
Spending time with the children and their families created memories that will remain with us forever.
The boy scouts worked with the kitchen staff daily performing every kitchen duty to keep the guests full, satisfied and content.
From washing and drying thousands of dishes, to setting the tables, serving food and cleaning the dining room for the 300 guests, the work was non-stop.
However, because of the helpful and kind scouts, the camp was able to keep the costs affordable and families were able to spend more time together enjoying the daily activities.
During the few breaks we had throughout the weekend, the scouts participated in the camp activities with the children.
Many of us glided down the zip line a few times, rode a giant (and super high) swing over the bay, and accomplished climbing across a ropes course high above the forest floor.
The best part was we enjoyed the activities along-side the children.
Observing children with missing legs or arms complete a 60-foot-high challenging ropes course is the only motivation you need to get across!
The campers were amazing and fearless and proved there are “no limits” to what they can accomplish.
We also partook in camp occupational and physical therapy sessions in which campers displayed their new prosthetic arms and legs.
We heard fantastic motivational speakers share their stories on determination and survival.
One of the speakers was a Boston Marathon bombing survivor.
We became friends with the children and their families.
We watched children with missing arms learn how to tie their shoes or braid their hair.
We witnessed campers with no legs race across the gym floor on their arms and we experienced a special end-of-camp dance together.
I cannot wait to return to Camp No Limits next fall.
The experience was one that I will never forget and one that opened my eyes to the abilities of some very special young children.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity.
I know my fellow scouts would agree and feel the same way.
Jacob Bianchi, Boy Scout and 8th Grade student at NPMS