A summer camp recommendation from an expert!

Joy and friends meet Avril at Camp OakesHere’s a guest post by camper Joy Durkee about one very special time at Easter Seals Camp in Southern California.

Meeting Avril Lavigne

by Joy Durkee

I grew up listening to my brother recount great memories from his experiences at camp, and then I began asking my mom when I was going to be able to go to camp, too. She was hesitant at first, but after much research, she came across Easter Seals Camp. That began my 20-year relationship with Easter Seals, leading to many wonderful opportunities and events for me.

I first attended Easter Seals Camp when I was 9 years old. Since then, I’ve talked to groups about Easter Seals and camp, I’ve done radio interviews, I’ve been in training videos for various companies, and I even participated in a sailing regatta in Long Beach.

Camp was my first experience away from home for more than one night, and I’ll be honest: the thought of going away for an entire week was definitely nerve-wracking, both for me and my parents. I definitely dealt with some homesickness, and my parents were anxious all week to come pick me up. Looking back, I am so thankful that my parents didn’t let their fears keep me from one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. In addition to meeting some incredible people and becoming part of the Easter Seals Camp family, I also learned some invaluable skills:

  • Taking care of myself
  • Being more independent
  • Improving my social skills
  • Interacting with others

Thanks to what I learned from my years at camp, I was able to go to a four-year college and live independently in the dorms. The people who work so hard to make camp happen every year are some of the most incredible people in the world.

Easter Seals Camp is completely volunteer-driven. Directors, nurses, counselors, and counselors-in-training come from all over the country at their own expense. They work their tails off so that people like me can have a week where we have no limitations.

It never ceases to amaze me (and truly touch my heart) to see how many of those volunteers continue to come back year after year. Many of them have been coming at least as long as I have.

Last year I got the surprise of a lifetime: I got to meet Avril Lavigne! Ever since I heard Avril had created a Rockstar Club for Easter Seals, I thought in the back of my mind that it would be awfully cool if she came up to camp someday. I never thought it would actually happen though!

Meeting Avril Lavigne is a moment I will never forget. I was so touched by her humility and her genuine interest in all of us. She was determined to do whatever she could to help make camp even better and allow more people to experience this amazing place.

The unconditional love and support that I have received from everyone at Easter Seals and at camp is unparalleled. Easter Seals Camp is truly the happiest place on earth!


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