Matthew Delaney first started coming to the Double H Ranch as a camper at the age of 7 years old. After graduating as a camper at the age of 16, Matthew began a new journey as a Counselor-in-Training at the age of 17 and has since spent two summers as a Counselor. Through all his years at camp, Matthew has developed a deep understanding of how having a safe place to just be a kid is so important for our campers.
We interviewed Matthew to find out about his journey from camper to counselor at Double H Ranch and how he continues to draw inspiration from the remarkable experiences he has had at camp.
How did you get involved with camp?
I have the diagnosis of VonWillebrand’s Disease and Glanzmann’s Disease – a rare platelet disorder. My hematologist at Albany Medical Center told me about this camp in the Adirondacks where I can have fun and still be safe. I was only 7 at the time and was scared to leave home, and my Mom was even more nervous to leave me alone! I went for the first time in the summer of 2004, and I absolutely loved it! Since then, I have spent every summer at Double H Ranch.
What was it like to grow up coming to camp? What did it mean to you?
Growing up at camp has been one of the most transformative experiences in my life. Each summer, I am filled with kindness, hope, inspiration, and courage every time I step foot on camp and see the kids that I have the luxury of interacting with. Even as a camper and now as a counselor, being around individuals who may have been through so much, and from different walks of life in which I would know nothing about if not for Double H, inspires me every day.
What is one of your best camp memories?
As a camper, some of my best memories were simply having late-night talks with all my cabin mates about our different life experiences, and what we were doing the next day for activities. The best memories were from interacting with kids that I formed a bond with, and for once in my life, I never had to worry about getting a bleed. It was one of the few places where I knew I was completely safe, which for many kids is all they want. Being a kid is one of the most important parts of life, and Double H is a place you can do all that – and more.
What inspired you to become a Counselor?
At the end of my time at camp around 16 years old, I developed an appreciation for camp that extended beyond the fun and excitement in which it provides. I met so many friends from different walks of life, many of which I still talk to today, and seeing all the younger kids have the same fun as I did inspired me. I knew I wanted to give back the gifts that camp brought to me, so at 17 I became a counselor in training and I have been a counselor for two more years after that.
How has Double H Ranch made a difference in your life?
I really do not know what my life would be like if not for my experiences at Double H Ranch. It really formed an integral part of me that makes way into my life at every turn. I can say with certainty that Double H makes me more kind, open-minded, patient, outgoing and confident.
In three words, how would you describe your experience as a counselor?
Silly, kind and inspiring.
What would you say to a child that is thinking of attending Double H Ranch?
Come to this place and be yourself. You will be safe, it will change your life, and you will have the most fun that you can ever imagine!