Throughout the years of seeing her son’s peers go to camp in the summer, Christine Carey didn’t think camp was something her son, Alex, would get to experience.
“God works things out,” Christine said at the last campfire at Cornerstone Campground during Victory Lane Camp’s second session of camp this summer. “We were supposed to be here.”
During their time at camp, Christine felt overwhelmed by the love and support of strangers. Strangers, she describes, “who are becoming family.” She continued, “their sacrifice for my family is humbling. I know they are blessed and they see our challenges, but unsolicited help is rare in the life of our families. It is freeing.”
The Careys were paired with the Backyard Mission Trip Family Kenny and Kristen Sylvester and their nephew, Jordan. Their connection was almost immediate and continued to grow strong throughout the week. When Alex’s father, Greg, was asked about the quick friendship formed between Alex and Kenny, he replied, “We’re taking him home with us!” Greg went on to share how helpful it was for their family to have someone else around.
Christine echoed that sentiment in her reflections after camp, “We’ve all stayed connected. It truly is a life line. I breathe easier knowing I have a lot of support now. I had it with my close friends and family, but no one ‘gets it’ like those living it, or those like the Backyard Mission Trip Families who choose to submerse themselves in our world for days on end.” She went on to share about the continued growth of the friendships and support formed at camp, “These people we met who embrace our son and our family encouraged Alex through texts and Facebook his first week of school.”
One significant moment that touched all three of the Careys was the auction at the final campfire. Families began bidding on a shark puzzle to help raise funds for a future Victory Family, and Alex asked his parents if they could bid. While they were discussing it, other families went back and forth in the bidding. Toward the end of the auction, all of the families left bidding were offering to give it to Alex. Christine expressed, “It made me a little teary eyed. I don’t think they even knew or realized that Alex was asking us to give money because he wanted to help.” After they returned to their camper that evening, they discussed what it meant for people to do that for Alex and how God had orchestrated so much of the week when Alex told his parents that God had given the puzzle to him because of all he learned about friendship and that “everyone is the same.” They now have plans to display their “most expensive piece of artwork,” as Greg refers to it, in a prominent place in their home as a reminder of the time spent at camp and the lessons learned.
Christine and Greg are both thankful for their experience and the support they’ve gained. And Alex summed up his feelings about the week in his testimony on the last night, “This time of year has been the best time of my life. The best thing has been everything. Also, the pool.”