Camp PALS

Guest Blogging From Soeren and Timbo- PALS Board Members and Spread the Word to End the Word Co-Founders

 "Timbo and I started Spread the Word to End the Word six years ago with what we thought was a crazy idea: that, somewhere, there were young people and self-advocates with ability and desire to lead a movement changing the way society views intellectual disability. We thought that, maybe, we could find enough young people and self-advocates willing to stand against the mistreatment of their classmates and friends with intellectual disabilities.

And then we came to PALS. And we realized that this wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. Through something as simple as being a counselor, being a camper, being a friend, all of us in the PALS community have already taken a stand against the stigma and prejudice that continues to follow those with intellectual disabilities. And we’ve taken a stand for acceptance, for friendship, for respect. Whether it happened at Camp Olympics, a PALS Spread the Word event, in a Camper Speech, or an authentic conversation over lunch, we’ve all taken a stand.

Today, we hope that you’ll take a stand with us to end one part of this stigma and prejudice: the word “retard(ed).” Take the pledge to end the R-word atwww.r-word.org and then asks your friends to do the same. Together, we can make a world where acceptance and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities isn’t such a crazy idea. Together, we can make the world a bit more like Our Place.


We hope you’ll take a minute to read the op-ed that Timbo and I wrote today for Spread the Word to End the Word. And, as a bonus, you can watch Timbo and I fidget in our interview with Huffington Post Live (also at the link).

Peace, Love, PALS,

Soeren and Timbo

Co-Founders, Spread the Word to End the Word
2010 Camp PALS Cabrini Olympics Champions (Go Sharks)“

Guest Blogging from Alyson and Jenna!

Camper/counselor pair Alyson McGonigle and Jenna Pando met a year and a half ago at Camp PALS and have remained extremely close. Read more about their friendship in their own words:

Alyson: “Going to school in Virginia often makes it hard to hang out during the school year, but we like to take advantage of the time we do have together while I am home. Over this past break, we went shopping, had lunch at Ruby’s and had a sleepover. While at school, I am thankful for the ability to FaceTime with Jenna. Because of this she has been able to meet my roommates, and see where I live while away at school.

Jenna has become so close with my entire family, and I with hers. We feel blessed to have such an amazing friendship…I am so lucky to consider Jenna one of my best friends, and I cannot wait to see what other adventures our friendship takes us on.”

Jenna: “I have fun with my friend Alyson from Camp Pals! This Christmas break we went to the Mall and I went to her house and played Ping Pong, dance party and Sequence at Alyson’s house.

I miss her when she is gone at school. Sometimes when Alyson is at her school I FaceTime with her and show her the dress my mom got me for my dance or my duck slippers. I love her.”

Jenna’s mom, Lizanne, added, “We have been so touched by Alyson and Jenna’s friendship.  Her whole family has embraced Jenna and welcomed her to their home or out to Alyson’s track meets many times. Alyson is a very special person and we have come to love her like family.  We hope that Alyson and Jenna remain friends forever.

We can’t thank Camp PALS enough for giving Jenna the opportunity to spread her wings and learn independence and relationship building with wonderful people like Alyson in such a safe environment.”

Do you have a photo or story like Jenna and Alyson’s from a recent hang out with your Camp PALS friends?

Email details to aj@palsprograms.org for your very own blog spotlight featuring the ways you keep the PALS love alive all year long.

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Georgetown Team

image

Meet the dynamic new Camp PALS Georgetown Director Team. This team is comprised of PALS veteran Alex Meltzer, the warm-hearted Andrea Greenfield, and rising star Scott Gerson. They represent the synthesis of old and young, combining wisdom and know-how with a vibrant spirit. Georgetown has their camp in the heart of the nation’s capital and intend to take full advantage of the surrounding opportunities and Georgetown community. This program will specifically focus on the development of campers into confident, independent young men and women while they enjoy the best week of their lives. The countdown to Camp PALS Georgetown 2014 has officially begun!

Learn more about them after the jump:

image

Alex:

“What’s up, PALS people? I’m Alex Meltzer, and this will be my 11th year at Camp PALS! In the past I’ve held many different positions, ranging from counselor to head counselor to director, the last of which I am very excited to be doing again this summer at Camp PALS Georgetown. I currently live in Baltimore, Maryland, where I am working on my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I look forward to working with two great freshman directors this year and meeting some new campers and counselors too!”

image

Andrea:

“Bonjour to you all! My name is Andrea Greenfield, and I’m anxiously awaiting the start of my 4th summer at Camp PALS. I have worked as a counselor and CPS in the past, but this will be my first experience as a director! I recently began a job at the Morris County Mental Health Association, working in the Supportive Housing Department. I live with my family in New Jersey (Go Devils!), and I look forward to checking out DC during camp this summer.”

image

Scott:

“Aloha! My name is Scott Gerson, and I am the youngest member of the PALS Director Team this year. I spent the last three summers as a counselor, visiting multiple programs this past summer (Philly, Chicago, and G-town). This will be my 4th summer with PALS, but my first as a director, and I can’t think of two people I’d rather have by my side for Camp PALS Georgetown 2014. I am currently a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, where I play baseball and coach Unified Bocce. Hurry up, summer!”

Camp PALS Georgetown occurs in Washington, D.C. June 29 - July 5, 2014 for 40 campers ages 16-25.

To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Princeton Team

image

Meet the Princeton Director Team. Joining last year’s fearless leader, returning Princeton director Whitney Flora, is David Sabia, a counselor at various PALS events for the past four summers, and Steven Rosen, a new member of the PALS family and a Princeton alum. Located on the historic and beautiful Princeton campus, this program intends to replicate the quintessential college experience–trying new things with new friends, all while developing meaningful independence. The team looks forward to meeting their campers and counselors and beginning what will surely be one of the best weeks of the summer!
Learn more about them after the jump:
image

Whitney:
“Hey PALS fam! My name is Whitney Flora and this will be my 6th summer with this amazing organization. In the past I was a counselor and head counselor at Camp PALS Philadelphia. I then got to experience the awesomeness of Camp PALS San Francisco and this last summer I had the pleasure of being a head counselor at Camp PALS Georgetown. It will be my 2nd year as director of Camp PALS Princeton and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for this incredible summer!  I am currently a senior at the University Of Arizona majoring in Family Studies and Human Development and plan to move to the east coast as soon as I graduate. I am so unbelievably excited to work with these guys and to plan a fun-filled camp at the beautiful Princeton campus! Watch out NJ!”

image

David:
“Hey everybody! I’m David Sabia and this summer will mark five years since my brother Steve, a 7th-year camper, introduced me into the PALS family! In that time I’ve served as either a counselor or head counselor at PALS Philadelphia, PALS San Francisco, PALS Georgetown and PALS Princeton. This summer I’m excited to spend my first year as a director with my amazing co-directors at PALS Princeton. I currently live in Silver Spring, Maryland, where I work as a 5th grade paraeducator in the Montgomery County Public School system. I am also working towards my Masters in Elementary Education from University of Maryland, which I will complete this upcoming May. Can’t wait to meet all the counselors and campers for what will surely be one of the best weeks of the year!”


image

Steven:
“Hi! My name is Steven Rosen and I’m a new addition to the PALS director team.  I graduated from Princeton University last year where I was a director of Princeton Disabilities Awareness (PDA), an organization that held an annual carnival for young children with Down Syndrome.  I currently live in Philadelphia but travel all over as a consultant for McKinsey and Company.  I couldn’t be happier to head back to Princeton for Camp PALS!”

Camp PALS Princeton occurs on the Princeton University campus July 27- August 2, 2014 for 25 campers ages 18-25.

 To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Content Team


image

Meet the brand new, “still in the box with shrink wrap on” team of content directors. Supporting PALS across the nation, this team is composed of the energetic Paige Talhelm - Donor Relations, the veteran Jordan McCollough - Media, the classy Courtney Lynch - PALS Adventures and the awesome Ricky Price - Medical. This team was created to fulfill the needs of all programs, current and future, of our rapidly growing organization. The Content Team aims to assist each group of directors on common key areas, such as funding, staffing, and continued programming, allowing each group of camp directors to focus on making “the best weeks of the year.” While others have begun the countdown to a specific camp, the content team is already living the PALS dream by supporting each location year-round. They are inspired, motivated, and excited to support the wonderful PALS community 365 days of the year

Learn more about this team after the jump:




image

Paige:

“I’m Paige Talhem, and this will be my fourth year at PALS and I will be serving as our Donor Relations Director. I will be working with each of the program director teams and their donations. I’m super excited to work with each camp and am counting down the days. My interest in PALS and helping those with special needs began because of my brother who has Autism. I reside in the hood of Baltimore with my two roommates and wiener dog. I am currently a Psychology major at Towson University. In my free time, I enjoy volunteering at the Hussman Autism Center and eating a lot!”

image

Jordan:

“Greetings Earthlings! I’m Jordan McCollough, Director of Media, and this will be my 7th year with PALS. Over the years I’ve filled a lot of roles including counselor, blogger, and videographer. This will be my first summer as a PALS Director, and I couldn’t be more excited! I currently live in Washington, DC where I am working as a Software Test Lead for an IT consulting firm. In addition, this summer I started my own wedding videography business and have successfully completed 4 projects. I look forward to acting as videographer for PALS this summer while taking a step back to shape the future of PALS Media “the other 51 weeks” of the year. Please feel free to contact me at jordan@camppals.org for any PR/Media related inquires!”

image

Courtney:

“Hello PALS family! I’m Courtney Lynch and I’m ecstatic to officially be joining the PALS Director team! I can’t get enough PALS in my life and Summer 2014 will be my 6th summer at camp. This year, I will be working on year round PALS programs as the Director of Adventures. I graduated from Miami University in May with a degree in special education and though I grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, I currently live in beautiful North Carolina. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to bring PALS Adventures to a city near you! ”

image

Ricky:

“Hey PALS Peeps! My name is Ricky Price and I am so excited to join the Director Team for my 5th summer at PALS. I have been a counselor for the past 4 summers, so I was thrilled to receive this roll as Medical Director for PALS 2014 to help make this summer the best summer yet for all of our programs around the country. A little about me: I am a senior at Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) and I will be graduating this spring with a bachelor’s in Kinesiology and a minor in Dance. I am also in the process of applying to Medical Schools in the hopes of becoming a specialized pediatrician for persons with disabilities. I am super excited for this summer; the countdown has begun for PALS 2014!!”


To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Check back tomorrow to meet the next team of directors!

The PALS Programs Annual Fundraising Campaign is back!

Just in time for the holidays, this year’s PALS Programs Annual Fundraising Campaign has officially begun! 

This year we are aiming for a total of $100,000 in donations. PALS has officially expanded to six camps for the new year and every little bit raised makes a huge difference in our future.

We are confident that the PALS community has what it takes to make this campaign a huge success. Let’s make this the best year yet!

image

image

You can donate online here or by mailing a check to “PALS” at 12 Dow Drive, Hillsborough, NJ 08844.

Curious as to where the money goes? View our annual report.

Announcing Our 2014 PALS Directors!

This weekend, our 23 incredible directors will come together in Maryland for the first-ever PALS Director Training Retreat! Led by our Executive Director and members of our Program Catalyst Committee, our directors will work to strengthen their teams, develop visions for their programs, and begin planning for the great summer of 2014!  

During the month of November, each team will have a chance to introduce themselves and share about the exciting details of their camp on the blog! But first, we wanted to take a moment to officially announce the 2014 Directors!

Taking on the 11th summer of Camp PALS Philadelphia will be Laura, Morgan and Jenn!

image

Bringing the Pacific Ocean to PALS for the 3rd summer at Camp PALS San Francisco will be James, Hannah, and Sara!

image

Taking us to the MidWest for the second summer of Camp PALS Chicago will be Conor, Joanna, Doug, and Kyle!

image

Guiding us in our nation’s capital for the second summer of Camp PALS Georgetown will be Andrea, Alex, and Scott!

Leading us through the thrills of New Jersey for the second summer of Camp PALS Princeton will be David, Steven & Whitney!

Introducing the world to Camp PALS Dallas for the first time will be Kellen, Brenna, and Jill!

And finally supporting PALS across the nation in the areas of Donor Relations, Media, PALS Adventures and Medical will be our team of content directors - Paige, Jordan, Courtney & Ricky!

image

We are so excited for this incredible team of dedicated, genuine and fun volunteers! Feel free to congratulate them all by emailing alldirectors@camppals.org!

The PALS Resource Development Team is looking for new members! Our team works to identify potential donors, create partnerships with local companies, and support the annual online Fundraising Campaign. 

 We are looking for people who are passionate about PALS and are excited to help PALS grow for another ten years! 

 If you’re interested, please email us at fundraising@palsprograms.org.

The PALS Resource Development Team is looking for new members! Our team works to identify potential donors, create partnerships with local companies, and support the annual online Fundraising Campaign.

We are looking for people who are passionate about PALS and are excited to help PALS grow for another ten years!

If you’re interested, please email us at fundraising@palsprograms.org.

Upcoming PALS Adventures in September and October

We now have four PALS Adventures to announce, including the Buddy Walk in NYC which is less than 2 weeks away! Don’t forget to sign up for the Adventure in your area. 

 

If you are a counselor interested in planning an event to reunite local members of the PALS family in your area, contact adventures@palsprograms.org to get started. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Keep an eye on the blog and the Facebook for announcements of more upcoming Adventures.

Wow! We did it! This summer was the largest in PALS history and we couldn’t be happier. With five programs and more campers and counselors than ever before, PALS celebrated its 10th anniversary with the most exciting and incredible summer yet. Thank you to all the directors, campers, counselors, volunteers, families, and donors that made this summer possible! Without each and every one of you, we couldn’t be the family that we are proud to be. 
 Check out all our summer memories at  facebook.com/palsprograms . 
 Already missing the good times shared at PALS this summer? Don’t forget to check out local PALS Adventures in your area throughout the year! If you’re interested in hosting an adventure in your area or have an idea for a weekend getaway, please email  adventures@palsprograms.org .

Wow! We did it! This summer was the largest in PALS history and we couldn’t be happier. With five programs and more campers and counselors than ever before, PALS celebrated its 10th anniversary with the most exciting and incredible summer yet. Thank you to all the directors, campers, counselors, volunteers, families, and donors that made this summer possible! Without each and every one of you, we couldn’t be the family that we are proud to be.

Check out all our summer memories at facebook.com/palsprograms.

Already missing the good times shared at PALS this summer? Don’t forget to check out local PALS Adventures in your area throughout the year! If you’re interested in hosting an adventure in your area or have an idea for a weekend getaway, please email adventures@palsprograms.org.

tumblr_mqyachZKsB1rl7djko1_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqyachZKsB1rl7djko2_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqyachZKsB1rl7djko3_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqyachZKsB1rl7djko5_1280.jpg

This past week at Camp PALS Chicago has been a truly amazing one. Campers and counselors from all across the country have made incredible memories and built some wonderful friendships. Friday was the perfect way to cap off the last week of fun. 

 
Campers and counselors participated in a memorable Olympics, competing in relay races, dance competitions, and even some human sculpture building! 
After a laid back afternoon full of arts and crafts and team bonding, Camp PALS Chicago got gussied up for a Super Hero-themed semi-formal dance where they danced the night away.
 
Closing ceremonies begin tomorrow at 1:30pm at the Elmhurst College chapel.

Check out the photos from today’s amazing activities here.

tumblr_mqw4bmbOIJ1rsxq19o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqw4bmbOIJ1rsxq19o4_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqw4bmbOIJ1rsxq19o5_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqw4bmbOIJ1rsxq19o3_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqw4bmbOIJ1rsxq19o2_1280.jpg

Today was a beautiful day in Elmhurst, Illinois, and Camp PALS Chicago’s campers and counselors took full advantage of this gorgeous summer weather. The day was jam packed with a trip to the bowling alley, a joke-telling competition, and tons of fun games. 

Campers also participated in the Congratulations Project. During this activity, each camper wrote a letter to be distributed to new parents of a baby with Down syndrome congratulating them on the amazing future their families have in store. All of the campers wrote truly incredible letters.
Coming soon: a video of a few outstanding examples!

Camp PALS Chicago finished up this incredible day with an ice cream social and a truly epic PALS dance party. 

Check out the photos here.

tumblr_mqubmypDVz1rsxq19o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqubmypDVz1rsxq19o4_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqubmypDVz1rsxq19o3_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqubmypDVz1rsxq19o2_1280.jpg

Campers and counselors at Camp PALS Chicago spent the morning in the gym playing a competitive game of basketball before heading to the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo. After walking through the gorgeous park and checking out some awesome animals from all over the world, Camp PALS Chicago headed back to campus for dinner and a show- camper karaoke! Everyone brought the house down in true PALS style with their incredible, passionate performances of everything from Justin Bieber to the Beatles.

Check out the photos from the amazing performances and more here and get ready for a truly excellent video!

tumblr_mqsfm7IwjW1rsxq19o3_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqsfm7IwjW1rsxq19o1_r1_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqsfm7IwjW1rsxq19o4_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqsfm7IwjW1rsxq19o2_1280.jpg

Camp PALS Chicago spent a beautiful Tuesday on Lake Michigan, soaking up all the sun, sand, and sailing the Windy City has to offer.
Campers and counselors spent the day splashing in the water, playing in the sand and enjoying both a beach barbecue and each other’s company before heading over to the Chicago Yacht Club for the evening. There Camp PALS Chicago enjoyed a delicious dinner and amazing sail boat cruises around Lake Michigan. There may not be anything that can rival the amazing view of the Chicago skyline participants took in, but the smiles and laughter captured today may be pretty close!


Check out the photos of today’s fun here and keep an eye out for the video.

tumblr_mqomkakcco1rsxq19o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqomkakcco1rsxq19o2_1280.jpg
tumblr_mqomkakcco1rsxq19o3_1280.jpg
Camp PALS Chicago launched full swing into its inaugural year today with the arrival of our amazing crew of campers from all across the country! After enjoying the beautiful sunny weather and getting to know each other, campers and counselors got a taste of the gorgeous Elmhurst campus and all the fun in store with a barbecue on the beautiful lawn and some getting-to-know you games. Camp PALS Chicago 2013 is just getting started and campers and counselors alike are prepped for an incredible week! 
 
 
Check out today’s photos here and keep an eye out for today’s awesome video.
 
 

tumblr_mppkzwwEV71rsxq19o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_mppkzwwEV71rsxq19o3_1280.jpg
tumblr_mppkzwwEV71rsxq19o4_1280.jpg

Nothing kicks off a Tuesday like an awesome Aerobics session with Sara! The day kept heating up at Camp PALS San Francisco as campers participated in Yoga or Kickball. Lunch was DIY including crafting fresh guacamole and parfaits, followed by a surprise Pizza party in the quad.

The evening brought a conversation about “Spread the Word to End the Word” and a great letter-writing session for The Congratulations Project. The evening ended with an awesome Doodle class; drawing with simple shapes and creativity and then a warm summer night hangout on the lawn! 

See more pictures from our day here.

"Hello!" from head photographer AJ Abelman

 Hi Everyone! My name is AJ and I’m thrilled to be heading up the amazing professional photography team at camp this year, helping document all the fun we’re having this week!

   In addition to capturing campers and counselors at their best, part of my job this year is co-leading a new training activity called “Arts and Media.” The sixteen campers participating in this activity will meet three times this week, helping put together a Camp PALS 2012 scrapbook that will be available for veiwing during closing ceremonies. Arts and Media participants will each also have a chance to be a “guest blogger” on the Camp PALS blog, telling all of cyber space about themselves and their time here at camp!

 Keep an eye out for posts written by our guest bloggers!

-AJ