Nathan is a young man who absolutely loves to fish and has used a wheelchair his entire life for mobility. He came to Camp Big Sky with his dad and spent the night in our accessible cabin. The next morning, Nathan and his father took our accessible fishing boat out on Bruce’s Lake where he caught the biggest bass of his life, simultaneously winning a small tournament we were hosting.
As Nathan was preparing to leave he told us that our camp, “blew him away!” But what really impressed him the most was that in two days, not one person had asked him what was “wrong” with him.
“For the first time in my life I fit in. I was just another fisherman.”
Sebastian came to Camp Big Sky with his classmates for a spring field trip. His teachers had been working to build his confidence by having him list new things that he had learned to do.
During the day Sebastian flew a kite and caught a fish, both for the very first time his his life. At the end of the day he proudly proclaimed to his teachers that, “I have two more things that I can do to add to my list!”
Ivan had been an avid fisherman his whole life until Alzheimer’s robbed him of the opportunity to fish again, or so he thought. His son and daughter-in-law brought Ivan to Camp Big Sky one Saturday morning and he fished with our volunteer, Linda, nonstop for five hours while smiling broadly each time he pulled in another large bluegill off of our floating dock.
The next Saturday he returned again to fish with Linda when he landed a 30 inch channel catfish! While his condition had greatly diminished his capacity for speech, Ivan looked at his catch and proudly whispered, “Now that’s a whopper!”
Not only did Camp Big Sky give Ivan the opportunity to once again enjoy a lifelong love of fishing, his son and daughter-in-law were able to enjoy a brief respite from the full-time care giving for Ivan. Roger went fishing from the bank by himself while Monica read a book in our gazebo overlooking Bruce’s Lake in quiet solitude.
Sara learned to cast artificial lures at Camp Big Sky while preparing for our annual fishing tournament. After building her confidence by fishing in the event she asked her high school fishing coach if she could join the team, which she did as an alternate!
In her next tournament, Sara and her partner won the event! That evening and the next morning at church, Sara proudly showcased her trophy to everyone and told them, “Now I can tell my coach that I can help us win!”
Eighty-six year old Marie had never taken a boat ride in her entire life. On her first visit to Camp Big Sky, we took Marie on a pontoon boat ride which she thoroughly enjoyed. Upon returning to the dock, Marie did not want to get off of the boat, so instead she made up for lost time and went on two more rides. Marie looks forward to her boat ride every time she visits Camp Big Sky.
Willie participated in our Life Skills Program in 2013. During the 10-week program, Willie learned so much! Willie learned how to differentiate the days of the week and the difference between hot & cold objects, two important concepts that his family had been focusing on with him for some time. While these skills may seem to be small achievements to many, to his mother it was a very big step in helping him to prepare for independent living one day.