For 23-year-old Bree, One Heartland started out as a place where she could help others. Her work was quickly rewarded with new experiences, friendships, and lots of lifetime memories.
Before Bree became part of the summer-long program staff at One Heartland’s Willow River facility, she had heard about the camp from a loved one who had been a One Heartland camper, and the camp counselors she stayed in touch with throughout the year.
“The counselors I know are such fun, cool people,” she says, “And they encouraged me to join them at camp. So I signed up for the whole summer so I could get the full experience.”
Born with a physical disability, Bree is not as mobile as some of her fellow counselors, sometimes requiring a wheelchair to get around. She quickly contributed in many ways, and bonded quickly with her fellow staff and campers.
“I know my disability is not relatable to everyone, but when I, or anyone else, arrives at camp we are welcomed with open arms,” she says.
For the past two summers, Bree has acted as a counselor bunked in the girls’ cabins, helping lead programs and assisting with anything else that’s needed. A self-described “noncamper” prior to One Heartland, she quickly learned why simple activities such as singing a silly camp song is good for the soul.
The experience has driven Bree to pursue a degree in Human Services.
“I want to work at a place where people want to be there, like One Heartland,” she says. In the meantime, she’s planning to join the One Heartland staff again in 2014, helping others and making more memories.