I wasn’t supposed to be at Camp HASC this summer. It all happened with the emergence of the Delta Variant when my family’s plans for a trip to Israel were canceled. I took the drive up on July 4th, and I wasn’t prepared for Camp HASC’s impact on me.
Camp HASC is not just a camp for special needs children; it is a place where souls are reawakened, friendships are made, and broken hearts become whole again. Camp HASC is not the type of place where it’s every man for himself; it’s a place of teamwork and achdus, unity. It’s the type of place where when you’re walking up a hill with a heavy wheelchair, another counselor will offer to push it for you, even if it’s ninety degrees and they have a camper of their own. It’s the type of place where when you tell your camper that you’re thirsty, someone passing may offer you a cup of water. It’s also the type of place where people offer to drive each other home on their off days, making extra stops, and taking extra time after a long week. Though at times it may be challenging to take care of people with special needs, at Camp HASC, you’re not on your own.
It’s amazing the way your heart can fill with joy at someone else’s happiness. On one of my first days at Camp HASC, there was a concert. When the music started playing, I began to dance with my camper, and her face lit up in a way I had not seen before. Joy flooded through me, and I became emotional. I looked around, and I saw many campers on counselors’ shoulders, dancing in circles around campers in wheelchairs. The goal at Camp HASC is to make our campers happy.
Time and time again, I was inspired not only by the fantastic Beis Midrash Program that the camp provided but by the campers themselves. How campers are willing to give up their swing for another camper in a wheelchair.Or how when I was trying to bring a camper to lunch and he didn’t want to come an older camper came and took his hand to bring him. How the campers Daven with such enthusiasm and point to every word. Finally, how they smile despite all their obstacles.
Camp HASC is known to be the happiest place on Earth. But to me, it’s the place that heaven meets Earth.