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  • Writer's pictureKaterina

Meeting Those that Understand

Have you experienced meeting others that understand what you are struggling with? Maybe they have the same chronic illness or pain as you? This could be through a conversation over coffee, a support group, or even virtually through zoom. I can now tell you this, getting to know a group of people with the same chronic illness, is life-changing.

Last week, I was a counselor with a camp designed for kids with Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT). Camp Footprint is for ages 10-18 and normally takes place in Pennsylvania. This year it happened virtually over zoom, but the week was still amazing. The plan is to be in person the following year.

There are no words to describe what a wonderful blessing and opportunity this was for me. After almost three years of not knowing anyone outside my family that has CMT, I have started to make new friends in the past several months leading up to last week. And this camp brought even more.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember hearing more about this camp. To be honest, though it sounded wonderful, I wasn't doing well emotionally. I went from believing I was fine, to adjusting to new changes with a disability. There was also the factor of having to travel by myself to a camp were I didn't know anyone. When it came time to make a decision, I chose not to go.

Then a year later I started filling out the application to be a counselor. However, I was concerned that the week of activities would be too much because of my fatigue. Yes, this camp is for children with CMT, but I knew that there would be a lot involved to help. I almost felt it wasn't in God's timing for me. In that year, I still struggled with more changes from the progression of symptoms. So I waited for the right timing.

Then towards the beginning of 2021, I started to get to know another college student with CMT. This friend encouraged me to sign to help with Camp Footprint. She shared that "the community is amazing" and "everyone understands without having to explain anything about CMT." After praying, I knew that this was another opportunity that God wanted me to take hold of. Now, I realize He had this planned all along.

From the early morning wake-ups, activities, cabin times, and discussions of CMT, I felt joy in my heart. To see the other campers share and everyone nod because they can relate was amazing to witness. This brought a reminder that we are not alone.

Overall, everyone was welcoming, and right away I gained another family. I'm so excited for what next year brings with Camp! I know that God will continue to work through these opportunities of meeting those that understand.

Reflection Questions:

How have you seen God work through you even when there were doubts?

When have you experienced feeling welcomed and loved?


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