May 30 2016
I first became involved with AboutFace at the age of 13 when I attended Camp Trailblazers for the first time. Since that very first camp experience over 10 years ago, AboutFace has done wonders for my life. At camp, instead of our facial differences being the reason we stand out, they are what make us belong. It is incredible to feel unconditional acceptance and understanding throughout the entire camp program. It is because of Camp Trailblazers and other AboutFace programming that I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin. As a result of being involved with AboutFace and attending Camp Trailblazers, I have had the opportunity to meet other people who are like me and face similar struggles that I have had to endure. I have met extraordinary friends, some of whom I consider my best friends to this day. One of my earliest and most favourite memories of Camp Trailblazers is from my very first year. I was hanging out in the cabins with a bunch of my new friends and had mentioned that I recently had a bone graft surgery done from my hip. The next two words felt amazing when 3 (out of 4) others in the room said: “ME TOO!” and we all compared our scars. That ‘me too’ feeling is phenomenal, yet so indescribable. Memories like these are reasons Camp Trailblazers is so valuable to campers. My wish would be that every child with a facial difference has the opportunity to attend Camp Trailblazers because it is truly an experience of a lifetime. The connections made are like no other, and the benefits are incredible. Since my very first Camp Trailblazers weekend, I have returned every single year, first as a camper and then as a volunteer. I truly believe in what Camp Trailblazers has to offer youth with facial differences. Speaking as a previous camper and as a current volunteer at camp, I can tell you that these connections are unlike any other. I have a wonderful support system outside of AboutFace, but the relationships I made at Camp Trailblazers and AboutFace will always hold a special place in my heart.