When Alyssa thinks of Camp Sunnyside, Alyssa thinks of friends. It’s a theme Alyssa and her mom Bridget both talk about, and the difference these friends have made in her life.
At Camp Sunnyside, Alyssa can be herself. Bridget says, “When she is able to attend Camp, I see a part of Alyssa that I never see. She has made true friends at Camp Sunnyside. She attends high school and never talks about anyone from school, but when she goes to Camp Sunnyside, we can’t get her to stop talking about all her friends. It brings tears to my eyes when we walk into Camp Sunnyside and Alyssa has friends run up to her right away! Alyssa has never had this kind of relationship with peers.”
At week-long summer camp and during respite weekends, Alyssa enjoys the break from her family, and Bridget enjoys the time to recharge.
Bridget says, “I was so nervous the first time Alyssa went to camp. In fact, I called a couple times during her stay. Now I can drop her off and know how much fun she has with her friends. But the most important thing is that I know she is in great hands. The counselors are so friendly and truly care about all the campers; it is like another family for her.”
Bridget and her husband Craig adopted Alyssa through the foster care system when she was six years old. As Alyssa entered her teen years, her behaviors escalated and the family struggled to find the support they needed. Bridget says, “We had so much stress and no one to help until Easter Seals Iowa came into our lives. Since Camp Sunnyside, things have been a lot better, and Alyssa’s self-esteem has skyrocketed.”
In addition to attending camp and respite, Alyssa is a Counselor in Training at Camp Sunnyside and a Walk for Independence Ambassador.