Amy Muegge wasn’t sure about going to a Victory Lane Camp summer session last year. She was hesitant about taking her daughter into a new environment, and she was uncertain about raising the money to attend camp. It took some encouragement from an unlikely source to help her to take the leap and attend camp.
Amy was introduced to the idea of Victory Lane Camp through one of her friends a few years ago. Amy’s initial thought was, “nope.” She explained, “It was something I wanted to do, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make the money to take Emma. And the idea of taking care of Emma somewhere that was different was really daunting to me.”
Some time passed before another friend… this time one of Emma’s friends… reintroduced the idea of attending a Victory Lane Camp session. Emma had formed a close friendship with Jadyn Youngquist. Amy described how their connection developed, “Emma had a teacher in elementary school that really tried to foster to relationships between typical and non-typical kids. When I would see Jadyn, she would talk about how much she liked Emma.”
Determined to see her friend thrive at camp, Jadyn decided to pursue Amy after a Christmas program and talk with her about taking Emma to camp. “I had my mind set that night on finding her mom and talking to her about coming to camp. I basically walked over there and just said ‘Hi, I’m Jadyn from Emma’s school, and I’m her best friend.’” Jadyn shared.
Amy recognized Jadyn from the letter she had sent to their home about her friendship with Emma. For Amy, the letter continues to touch her. “It was the first time that I realized Emma could have friends. It warmed my heart so much. To think that Emma’s world could be more than just me and her dad and her sister. There’s people out there that care about people like Emma. It was somebody who purely wanted to spend time with Emma because she loves her for who she is,” she expressed.
Toward the end of 2016, Emma and Amy attended a VLC Christmas party. They were becoming more interested in camp, but Amy still had reservations on the finances and the idea of camping in general. She stated, “I thought it was such a great thing, but it took me years to go. I kept getting different glimpses into it. It was almost like ‘you’re meant to do this’ so we did.”
After hearing their decision to go to camp, Jadyn was excited to spend time with Emma, get to know her better, and have fun at camp. She shared, “As we got closer to camp, I realized what I wanted for Emma was for other people to get to know her and love her as much as I do. It was my mission to help the connections I had at camp to get to know and love her like I do.”
Amy wasn’t sure about camp at the beginning, but described, “It was better than I expected. It was wonderful. It was nice to be able to relax. It felt comfortable. It was nice having a group of teens include Emma. While I was sitting and talking to Lori (Fowler), they would come ask to take Emma with them. And Emma loved it. The girls still talk to some of the kids that we met there.”
Amy has some advice for parents thinking about attending a Victory Lane Camp summer session. “It will be stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s worth trying. It’s an atmosphere of acceptance and love and fun and encouragement. I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t want to do that. It’s worth facing fears and doing it.”
Since encouraging Emma’s family to attend camp, Jadyn is grateful for the experiences they were able to share. She expressed, “It was magical. It was kind of a dream of come true to help me get other people to recognize what an amazing person Emma is. She’s such a good person, and she’s always so happy.”