If you ask camper Billy Anderson, what keeps him coming back to Easterseals’ Camp Merry Heart, he’ll tell you it’s the food. If you ask former counselors Hope and John Lucas, they’ll tell you it’s campers like Billy. Imagine their surprise that after almost five decades since they worked at camp, they learn that Billy is still attending camp. Not only that, their daughter Hannah is his counselor! You see, Camp Merry Heart is a sleep away camp and respite program that caters to people with disabilities and special needs of all ages. Recently, Hope and John returned to camp and were reunited with Billy to catch up on days gone by. Hannah continues the family’s legacy of supporting people with disabilities by making sure all the campers enjoy their summer of fun and adventure.
Easterseals New Jersey’s Camp Merry Heart is a place outside of one’s home and community where everyone is treated as a person first; their challenges are secondary. Billy’s own father had this to say about the facility and staff at camp, “If anyone ever needs to renew their faith in young people, they should come to Easterseals Camp Merry Heart just to watch how these counselors give of themselves, provide fun and friendship, and how they treat people with disabilities,” says Billy’s dad. “It is a true test of caring.”