My Visit to Camp Riley
How often do you get the chance to truly impact a child’s life? On July 21st, seven of us rolled down State Highway 67 towards Camp Riley with hopes of doing just that. We arrived at the camp decked out in IUDM gear and smiles, and were greeted by Nikki, a passionate intern who told us about Riley 3, a two-week camp for 8-18 year olds.
Throughout the day, we witnessed Camp Riley’s impact come alive in the joy on the campers’ faces, generated by interactions between counselor and camper and as they undertook numerous experiences suitable for all campers who wished to participate in them.
The day we visited was Challenge Day, and every camper could choose how they spent their day. Some wanted to be in charge of a radio; some wanted to walk up and down Cardiac Hill numerous times; and some wanted to catch fish in the lake. In the morning, we volunteers were able to experience three activities with the campers: Cupcake Wars, music and dancing, or the Alpine tower. At Cupcake Wars, we met a camper who challenged us to a “Let it Go” sing off. That was volunteer Gabby’s favorite part of the day.
As afternoon activities commenced, the two most popular events were the bikes and the zip line. Trevor, a fellow volunteer, said “Seeing the smile on Levi's face before and after ziplining was my favorite part of the whole day!” I think I can speak for the group when I say how rewarding it was to watch the campers experience opportunities during Camp Riley that they had never seen before. Spending the day with these Riley Kids and watching the complete awe that filled their eyes as they faced these different challenges—it completely beat our expectations. The experience of this day wasn’t really us changing their lives—these campers changed our lives. The day opened our eyes to the reality that some people face every day, the positive impact a day at camp can provide, and the unique beauty in every single life—ours and theirs.
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