One of the best parts to being on the Board of Got Your Back or volunteering with many national organizations and being part of the lives of so many surviving families is being able to provide opportunities for them to have fun!About 8 weeks ago I met Neil through his organization CampHometown Heroes, he was looking for children affected by the combat related death of a loved one for his upcoming camp. A camp that is designed to be fun, designed to offer a normal camp experience to the children who attend. From my first conversation with Neil I knew that we were meant to work together. I took his information, the information on his camp and began to disseminate it to surviving families that I knew… word got around QUICK! Within 2 days 12 children had signed up and were going to be flying from all over our country to attend camp. To be part of the 62 inaugural campers at Camp Hometown Heroes Wisconsin summer camp experience.
Hometown Heroes is a volunteer led non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of children, families, first responders and veterans in need through a "pay it forward" approach to volunteerism and giving. By creating opportunities for thousands of inspiring volunteers, Hometown Heroes not only benefits the recipients but also those who serve.As the weeks got closer I saw mom’s get nervous, their babies attending camp in another state (even on the other side of the ocean) but there is a sense of pride in their fear. I was honored that they trusted me enough to suggest this trip - I have always said that I love their children as my own. Then the day came, each camper was headed to Wisconsin. I anxiously followed their flights through Facebook posts, then I spent the week following their camp experiences through their moms status updates and finally they were all back home. When I started reading the AAR (After Action Reviews) from the mothers and campers my heart was filled with happiness and warmth.
Being part of an organization is about the people that you can help; the small moments where one phone call brings about the happiness of 62 children. Next year I am sure the camp will be bigger, I also hope to be going as a counselor/volunteer with raise my goal of children attending by double. I am proud of the girls that attended, I am proud to watch their growth and look forward to seeing them all again soon.
Thank you to Camp Hometown Heroes for their generosity and support to the children that have lost a loved one during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and those that have been lost on our homefront. If you would like to see more photos or read what some of the campers and their parents had to say please visit their Facebook page at CampHometown Heroes