Our Camp Riley Love Story

Emily and camper Nicholas Hiles
Emily Church and Camp Riley camper Nicholas Hiles

Finding Joy at Camp Riley

Camp Riley provides an amazing experience for hundreds of Hoosier children with physical disabilities each summer; however it also leaves a lasting impression on the dozens of young adult staff who work there. The children, adventures and relationships create a life-changing impact that lingers long after summer ends.

My camp experience in 2009 started out as a summer job prior to my first year of occupational therapy school, but it quickly became something so much more than that. At Camp Riley, I found joy and excitement in seeing children accomplish things that most people would never dream they could do. I loved experiencing the contagious enthusiasm of campers as they tackled new challenges and lived life to the fullest. Additionally, it solidified my career choice by learning how to adapt everyday activities (and not-so-everyday activities!) for kids with a vast array of physical abilities.

Our Love Story Begins

For some people, Camp Riley might mean a renewed outlook on their abilities. Others may find a future career path. But for me, these summers also led me to my future husband.

Emily Church and Matthew Miller
Emily Church and Matthew Miller

During my first summer at camp I met Matthew, a gregarious cabin leader who had returned after previously working there in 2007. We had many mutual friends, but only fleeting interactions with one another throughout the following months. We both returned to Camp Riley in 2010 and were immediately drawn together as returning staff members. Our relationship grew throughout that summer and continued long after the last camper had left. Three years later, Matthew proposed to me at Bradford Woods (home of Camp Riley) on our favorite spot overlooking the lake.

Our Wedding Gift to Campers

We are getting married in August with multiple former camp staff (and campers) in attendance. While we are excited to start a new chapter of life together, camp will always be something that we share and look back on fondly, and will continue to be a part of our lives.

To honor a cause that is near and dear to our hearts we are making a donation to the Riley Children’s Foundation Campership Fund in lieu of wedding favors.

We are delighted to be able to give back to an organization that has made such an impact in our lives. We hope that our gift may impact the life of a future camper and their family.

Emily Church, Former Camp Riley Counselor

Emily Church, originally from Findlay, Ohio, is an occupational therapist at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana. Her fiance, Matthew Miller, is originally from Goshen, Ind. and is a second year medical resident at Riley Hospital in the neurodevelopmental disabilities program. Emily and Matthew met as counselors at Camp Riley, and enjoy spending time with family and friends, cooking, playing board games and exploring Indianapolis.

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