50 years aren’t enough to dim the memories Susie Haake keeps from her first Rotary Youth Camp adventure.
She was just 11 years-old, and polio had put her in a wheelchair eight years earlier. She remembers waiting for a bus to take her to the camp at Lake Jacomo, and being both excited and anxious about her trip away from home.
The anxiety, she says, melted away into pure joy as she met new friends and experienced nature at the camp. “It was amazing all the activities they cooked up for us,” Haake writes today. “Speaking of cooking, I think I had my first S’more around the campfire and I still love them to this day!”
Susie Haake says she’s still grateful for her camp experience; it was her first taste of independence. She went on to a successful 36 year career at Hallmark, spending the final decade as the employee volunteer program manager.
Kolin Burgess’s story is still being written. But his mother, Christy, already knows the value of the Rotary Youth Camp. Kolin, who lives with Tourette’s Syndrome, attended in 2009 when he was 10 years-old and said it was the best experience of his life. Christy writes, “This was the most ‘normal’ experience my son has had in years. Yes, years! He rarely goes anywhere without me to be a buffer between him and the world. To allow these kids to be free for an entire week is the greatest gift anyone could give them. For one glorious week they are free to (have a) tic, run, play, laugh and make friends. But more than that, for one amazing week they are free from glares, judgment, condescension and bullying. This is something that I, as a parent, couldn’t give him.”
Stories like these fuel Rotary Youth Camp and the thousands of volunteers and donors who make Greater Kansas City Day a success year after year. But you don’t have to wait until baseball’s Opening Day; click the button below to make a gift today!