When Stefanie was 8 years old, she lost her mother to breast cancer. Stefanie closed off from the world; she didn’t want to burden others with the weight of her feelings, and she thought no one could understand what she had gone through. That all changed the day she joined Camp Reach for the Sky.
“At camp, after the first day it was completely different. I met people who could not only understand the pain I had been through, but they knew from experience,” explains Stefanie. The people at camp quickly became family, which allowed Stefanie the space she needed to laugh, cry, and express all of those difficult emotions she had been bottling up inside for years.
As a counselor at camp, Stefanie gets to give back to the people who have given her so much strength and support. “The kids’ smiles melt your heart and to see that they get so much out of camp is incredible…”
Not everyone has been supportive of Stefanie’s love and dedication to the kids at Camp Reach for the Sky. “I quit my job in order to be at camp…my old job was not going to give me the time off so I made the decision to quit my job and be a part of camp. It was the best decision I have ever made.”
Stefanie shares one of her favorite memories from camp:
It was the last-night campfire of “Sibs Camp” (Sibling Camp) when one of the skits was going on and I looked around at everyone sitting, watching, and laughing and I got teary eyed for a moment because I didn’t want it to end…I wanted that moment to last forever and to stay with these people, happy and laughing, forever.
At 21, Stefanie is still taking away important life lessons from camp. “I have realized how amazing and strong the kids are and they really inspire me to do more, and really give me more drive in my life. When I went to camp this past summer I was dealing with a lot of personal issues and challenges and camp allowed me to really figure myself out and it did so much more for me than I ever thought possible.”