Camp I Am Me

 

I hope you are enjoying Canine Therapy Corps' #CTC25for25 campaign on social media! Thank you to everyone who has made donations thus far to help us get closer to our $25,000 goal.  So far, we’ve discussed Canine Therapy Corps' programs, stories of our participants, and the impact of our volunteers. Today I’d like to talk to you about another facet of our organization:  outreach!

In addition to regularly scheduled programs, Canine Therapy Corps frequently participates in outreach events with the goal of reaching new populations and further benefiting the community. One of our most popular and longstanding outreach relationships is with the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance’s Camp I Am Me. A sleepover camp for children and teens who have experienced burns, Camp I Am Me allows survivors to have fun and build their self-esteem in a safe, non-judgmental environment.        
 
Every June for the past 11 years, a large group of our volunteers have loaded their therapy dogs into their cars in the wee hours of the morning to make the long trek to YMCA’s Camp Duncan, near the Wisconsin border.  Upon arrival, we are greeted by the campers, who always give us a heartfelt welcome.  We fill the day with fun activities, such as “Simon Says” using the dogs’ obedience commands, agility relay races, and, of course, working on the dogs’ amazing tricks!  Everyone comes away a winner, with warm memories of their new therapy dog friends.     
The children and teens at the camp have all experienced a burn requiring hospitalization or out-patient treatment, and their injuries range from lost limbs to now nearly invisible scars. Although the campers may bear physical or emotional scars, our therapy dogs only see the warmth in their hearts.  The dogs embody the camp’s non-judgmental atmosphere by radiating love and affection to all, regardless of what the campers have been through.  It is quite an astonishing sight to see the campers light up while interacting with the dogs.     
 
We have seen several campers across multiple years, as well as campers who have come back to serve as camp counselors to the next generation.  Likewise, Canine Therapy Corps has many volunteers who have returned to Camp I Am Me year after year, some taking time off of work to make the trek. Alongside my Lhasa Apso mix Prada I have personally attended the camp ten of the eleven years Canine Therapy Corps has been going!  This dedication on both sides is truly a testament to the impact the camp has on both the campers and volunteers.      
 
While this is only one of the approximately 40 outreach events Canine Therapy Corps participates in each year, it is, without question, one of our favorites. The magic of seeing a child struggling with self-esteem gain the confidence they need by handling one of our therapy dogs is breathtaking.  We are already counting down the days until next June when Canine Therapy Corps will return for year 12! 

To help us continue providing community outreach at places like Camp I Am Me, please make a one-time or recurring gift to Canine Therapy Corps today.  We still have a long way to go until we reach our $25,000 goal, and we need your help to get there. 
 
Thank you for supporting our 2017 trip to Camp I Am Me,

Michelle Schwartz
Volunteer
Canine Therapy Corps, Inc.