Being introduced to Camp Trailblazers in my early teens was life changing.
Growing up with a cleft lip and palate, I was lucky to have a supportive family and good friends. But none of them truly understood what it was like to have a facial difference.
Camp was where I met amazing people, made lifelong friendships and met Dave, one of my camp leaders, who was a huge influence on me and who I keep in touch with to this day.
Camp was where I could express my anxiety about an upcoming surgery and know that others would understand, or had even gone through the same surgery and could tell me what to expect.
It was where I developed many of the self-advocacy skills that I use to this day in both my personal life, and in my profession in the social services field.
I’ve been with AboutFace for 15 years. Every summer, I volunteer as a camp leader because I want youth with a facial difference to have that same experience of belonging, fun, and building skills to become stronger and more self-confident.
My mantra today is – be the person you needed when you were younger.
As a camp leader, I want to be there for the kids at Trailblazers the way leaders like Dave were there for me.
I am grateful for my experience, for the friends and the memories I can cherish. To continue to meet unique individuals and be a part of their story.
[Tyler pictured with camper, Brayden.]