Victory Lane Camp’s summer sessions are an opportunity for families to take a break from the real world and experience life together. For some families, that means allowing others to see inside their “bubble” and learn who they truly are. This possibility initially made Victory Mom, Melissa Smith, unsure about bringing her family to their first camp experience.
“Before camp started, I was really nervous about everything,” Melissa explained. “We have a teenager who was trying to learn the ropes. I have a husband who was having health issues himself. There were a lot of issues going on, I was nervous that everyone would see the real deal of our family.”
After receiving reassurance from family friend Dara Upchurch, Melissa and her husband Delmar took their three sons, Malachi, Micah, and Simon to VLC’s summer camp session at Cornerstone Campground. The family had a rocky start at camp, due to typical family dynamics. She shared, “We got there, and right away everyone started arguing over beds. But Sarah Urwin, our family crew chief, just laughed and helped us.”
Throughout the week, Melissa became more comfortable with allowing others to see the real life experiences of their family. “I was able to relax and allow my kids to have fun and not have to worry about what to do next. Sarah was right there, and she was on it. There were no worries. It was amazing to me,” expressed Melissa.
Melissa and Delmar’s middle son, Micah, is on the autism spectrum. He likes to stay close to home. The experience of camp was a little overwhelming for him. He struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and trying new things. Even so, he was able to have fun at camp. But it was their second year of camp at Bradford Woods where Micah really started feeling at ease.
Melissa shared about their second camp experience, “We knew what to expect and how things would go. We weren’t as worried about it. It was exciting! We got to be with some of the same people and got to meet new families. We enjoyed the part where we got to sit down with our little groups. Both camp sessions were very different experiences, but we really enjoyed them both.”
The Smith family continued their involvement with VLC since that first experience. They attend the events during the year and have made close friends with other families from the community. “It’s like extending our family. It’s been amazing,” Melissa described.
Their time with Victory Lane Camp has helped them to see more beauty in the world. Melissa noted, “You get to meet kids that are different. It pulls your heartstrings to meet the kids and watch them and see the beauty that God created-- each kid is so different.”
Through all the events and camps, Melissa’s favorite memory is laughter. “The laughter and the tears that we get, the singing, the fire, the s’mores…” she shared. “It feels like family.”