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Craig - Humans of Camp America

07.06.17

But it gave me a greater outlook on life and what we take for granted. I owe this fortunate vision and appreciation to 'Camp Paivika' 

Paivika is a summer camp for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, based in the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California.

Working at camp was the first time I'd ever worked with people who are intellectually/physically disabled. Being around these individuals made me realise that all of our everyday problems are petty and pathetic compared to the everyday struggle these guys have. like, being able to brush our teeth, or take a shower, or even walk.. These simple things don't cross our minds as anything difficult because we just do it... but some of these campers can't do it for themselves. Whether its walking to the bathroom, trying to get our attention but is unable to speak or even knowing how to use a knife or fork. we take these small everyday actions as if its almost a burden.  

At camp we made sure these guys had all the help they could get while also encouraging independence. I remember day one in June 2015 i was assigned to feed one of the campers who unfortunately had cerebral palsy, this guy was wheel chair bound and could barely move his limbs or talk. I was to be honest, quite nervous but after a few minutes i realise that, we were able to communicate in different ways than just talking. This guy had the best attitude. That was when I realised I wasn't there to better these guys but they were there bettering me.

Since then, after camp, I returned back to New Zealand and worked with individuals between camps. Now its been two years and plan to continue. That is why Camp Paivika stays with me to this day.

Craig, Camp Paivika - 2015-2016