Nicolette Ngov – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – This summer a LRHS student dedicated her time at Dream Oaks Camp, a camp designed for kids with physical and developmental disabilities that is dedicated to helping families by focusing on their well-being and health.
LRHS junior Gabriella Vazquez-Cruz found out about the camp het freshmen year, through a former camp director and started her second year as a counselor-in-training (CIT) this year.
Vazquez-Cruz said, “We were talking one day, and she told me endless stories about her job at Dream Oaks and how much she loved working there. She thought I would be an amazing fit as a staff member and recommended me for the CIT position. When I went to check it out I was immediately impressed by the positive atmosphere and instantly fell in love!”
Her duties as a CIT include helping her assigned counselor and taking care of any needs a camper might have. Vazquez-Cruz said, “The moment I got handed the file on my camper for the week, I suddenly couldn’t wait for the next day.”
One of the activities the camp offers its campers is a game called “Stump.” “Stump” is when several campers are chosen to select a staff member to spray with a hose and dump ice water on.
Vazquez-Cruz said, “The campers absolutely love stump and usually wear a mischievous grin when they spray their counselor with freezing water. “
Dream Oaks isn’t like any other camp, it focuses on making kids who are defined by their illnesses become recognized for their abilities. They celebrate what an individual can do, instead of what they cannot.
Vazquez-Cruz said, “The moment a camper walks in, they are accepted for who they are and all the amazing things they can do no matter what. I get to see the wide grin of the campers once they realize they completed their goal and the beaming smiles of parents who didn’t believe that sending their child without them was even an option. “
Vazquez-Cruz feels lucky to be part of such an amazing program that serve others.