At 12 years old, Karen arrived to her first year of Camp Merry Heart, a camp for individuals with disabilities and special needs. Karen’s parents were unsure how their daughter would respond to a new environment with unfamiliar people. Luckily Karen hit it off with the counselors and fellow campers, bonding over their mutual love of painting and music, and creating lifelong friendships and treasured memories. 40+ years later, Karen still finds joy and makes new friends attending Camp Merry Heart every summer.

Patrick, another longtime camper, looks forward to reconnecting with old friends just as much as he can’t wait to meet new ones each year. His favorite part of the experience is that it gives him the ability to get to know people his own age and establish a fun peer group. When socialization is made accessible, he is not isolated or excluded for any reasons.

Attending Camp Merry Heart has allowed Karen, Patrick, and hundreds of other individuals to socialize and explore their interests in a setting that is designed with their needs and wellbeing in mind. Camp and other accessible socialization opportunities help those with disabilities get to the other side of isolation by providing an outlet for socialization and a healthy wellbeing.

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