Wow, what an incredible week we had at Cabrini College for Camp PALS Philadelphia. There were incredible trips to the beach, Dave & Busters and the Franklin Institute, not to mention endless dance parties and fun activities!
"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)“
Smiles, dancing, and speeding down the slopes of Wisconsin were just some of the highlights from the first-ever overnight PALS Adventure Feb 21st-23rd. Twenty two PALS alumni from near and far boarded a bus en route to Wisconsin Dells, WI to enjoy a weekend with some friends both old and new.
Everyone bundled up for the frigid Wisconsin air for a morning of snow tubing at Christmas Mountain Village. Shouts of joy were heard as both campers and counselors flew down the mountain on their snow tubes.
After making lunch at the lodge,the afternoon called for a 180 degree turn as participants headed to the Indoor Wilderness water parks. The afternoon was filled with daring rides like the Hurricane and body slides, relaxing in the the lazy river and hot tub, and braving the waves in the wave pool.
After an eventful day, dinner was a team effort with everyone pitching in to make and enjoy an Italian feast. Then, in true PALS fashion, this exciting day was capped off with karaoke and a PALS dance party.
We are very excited to be announcing our first PALS Adventure on the West Coast!
This Adventure will take place Friday, March 21st, 2014 at the Google campus in sunny Mountain View, California! We will start with lunch paired with our Google partners and then move on to our Google technology sessions where we work on developing independent skills for going to work and school. We will be wrapping the day up in the Google bowling alley to dance, sing, bowl and have a blast with all of our friends at Google!
Interested in this PALS Adventure?
Sign up here: PALS Google Adventure Application
We are looking forward to continuing the wonderful relationship PALS has built with Google and cannot wait to see you all in March!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for your very own blog spotlight featuring the ways you keep the PALS love alive all year long.
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.
- September 21st- the 19th annual New York City Buddy Walk®
in New York City, NY.
Register and Sign Up
For more information, contact Kyle Stolarz
- October 5th- the Buddy Walk via the Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County
in Potomac, MD.
Register and Sign Up
For more information, contact Scott Gerson
- October 12th- 7th Annual Step UP For Down Syndrome 5k and Family Festival
in Richmond, VA.
Register and Sign Up
For more information, contact Alyson McGonigle
- October 13th- Chester County Down Syndrome Interest Group Buddy Walk
in Wester Chester, PA
Register and Sign Up
For more information, contact Hannah Cunliffe
If you are a counselor interested in planning an event to reunite local members of the PALS family in your area, contact email@example.com 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.
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.
Check out the photos from today’s amazing activities here.
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.
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!
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.
Nobody does Mondays quite like PALS. Camp PALS Chicago kicked off what is sure to be a truly incredible week with a Monday for the record books. The morning began with a kickball game followed by aerobics and yoga. After an exciting scavenger hunt around the beautiful Elmhurst College campus, campers relaxed with a movie and some popcorn before heading to downtown Chicago for an amazing evening at Dave and Busters.
Check out the photos from today’s adventures here and stay tuned for a video coming up soon!
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.
It was a beautiful day here in sunny Philadelphia. Camp PALS Philly spent this beautiful Thursday checking out the animals at the Philadelphia Zoo. After a relaxing afternoon, campers and counselors spent some time writing affirmation cards for one another, describing all the amazing things we have learned from each other and expressing our admiration and affection for one another.
The evening was spent prepping for the Camp PALS Olympics tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned for a video and keep your eyes on the facebook and blog for photos from tomorrow’s activities, olympics, and semi-formal dance.
Check out today’s photos here!
Wow! What a Wednesday.
Today, Camp PALS Philadelphia kicked off the morning by taking over Dave and Busters. Campers and counselors won tickets and prizes and had an overall blast dominating everything from ski ball to motor cycle race simulators.
Choice activities kicked off the afternoon with volleyball, music and more. After a delicious dinner, campers participated in a letter writing session for the Congratulations Project. The Congratulations Project is an initiative in which members of the PALS family write letters to new members of the Down syndrome community. These letters inspire, encourage, welcome and congratulate new parents of children with Down syndrome.
After this session, Camp PALS Philadelphia finished the evening in the best way that we know how; a classic PALS sing along and dance party.
To check out the album from this awesome day, click here.
For more information about the Congratulations Project, click here.
The first full day of Camp PALS Philadelphia was full of fun new things, games, laughter and fun! Campers and counselors played sports on the fields, swam in the awesome Cabrini College pool and enjoyed activities such as cooking, arts and crafts, and yoga. We wrapped up the evening with a killer karaoke session featuring all the latest hits and some awesome dancing.
Check out the album here and keep an eye out for the awesome video from today’s fun!