Camper Stories & Testimonials

My Second Home

I’m so happy that I’m able to go to such a great place in the summer. This summer will be my second year and I wish I never left. As a 15 year old who suffers from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I have always felt like I don’t belong, but Double H Ranch is just so amazing. Just the positivity alone is so inviting. You can forget that your different for five days and just be a normal kid. I’m so excited to come back to camp this year.

Madelyn, Camper, Cortland, NY

A Place in My Heart

In 2006, When I was 9 years old, my mother unexpectedly passed away. Looking back at that tragedy almost 15 years later, I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to heal at Cindy’s Comfort Camp. They truly made in impact in the coping of my mother’s death, and helped me move past that time in my life. They taught me that it is okay to be vulnerable and be open about our struggles in life. I made ever-lasting memories at that place and hope others who are affected by a tragedy can find peace the same way I did.

Corey, Camper, Liverpool, NY

When At Camp, Anything Is Possible

I just came back from my sixth year at camp, and I know I’ve said this countless times before but camp is a very special place for me. Throughout all of the hardships that have thrown me on another side quest from the big adventure of life, I can always remind myself that camp is always there for me. This year, 2022, has been very hard for me in terms of health, my social life, and family, so going to camp was probably one of the most amazing things to light up my year, if only for five days. With my JIA, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, cysts, and god knows what else, I know I won’t be judged at camp for taking a little longer to get somewhere or to eat, or for needing to use a wheelchair or the elevator to get where I need to be. Next year will be my last year as a camper, but I am so incredibly excited for alumni and to be a counselor myself. So, in a few less words, from the outside looking in, you don’t understand it, but from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it. Let the camp magic thrive.

Toby, Camper

My Second Family

I go to camp every summer that I’m not having surgery and it is always the best week of the year for me. I get to be normal for a week, there’s no pestering over “whats wrong with you” or the other millions of questions I get on a daily basis because of the way I walk. It is a caring environment filled with caring people who just want you to have fun and to feel like you’re part of the camp family. I get to do things that i never thought I’d be able to do, like a ropes course, zip lining, horseback riding, and archery. I’m super excited to go again this year and have that feeling of belonging that surrounds this camp.

Kayla, Vermont

Camp Takes the Crazy Away

“Double H Ranch changed my life in more ways than one. Being a 15 year old girl, newly diagnosed with leukemia, your entire world is crazy.  Camp took the crazy away, even just for a week.  Seeing the happiness of other campers, that had their own medical problems, brought so much joy to me.  It was something to look forward to every summer, the chance to escape the usual life of a ‘sick’ kid. The experiences I had at camp, and the connections I made will forever be in my heart.”

Jessica, Camper

Welcoming, Loving, Remembering

I have been a camper for 9 years (last year being my last), and Double H Ranch has been something I have looked forward to every year after school. As someone who suffers from Severe Hemophilia A, prior to coming to Double H, I felt alone, isolated, and different from others due to my disorder and my setbacks/limitations. But my first year there, I met a counselor with Hemophilia! (This was the first time me, or my parents, saw someone with the same disorder as me). This event, which I still remember so vividly, showed me that I am not alone with this disorder. I made so many friends, both with the same and different disabilities while here, many I still keep in contact with over social media. Basically, Double H Ranch is a magically happy place, where no one is judged, or held back due to their disability, Double H is a place where “disability” is just a word, and “Safe Fun” is a way of life that all campers, counselors, and nurses live by while here.

Malique, Camper, Wrightsville, PA

Long Lasting Friendships

I have attended Double H for 6 years, but this past summer was the best year ever. I got so close with by cabin mates, other cabins, and the counselors. We still keep in contact now. Double H has helped me grow as a person and helped me accept myself more. Everyone is beyond compassionate and loving you never want to leave. They inspire you to spread the magic of camp to everyone you meet. Even though it was my last year I am eager to come back as a CIT and eventually a counselor to provide the laughs and friendships that my counselors provided me with. I truly love this place, it will always be my home away from home. the people I meet and build friendships with will always be my second family. I wish more people could experience a camp so accepting and kind.

Jaiviana, Rochester, NY

You are Here

My brothers and I were given the opportunity of being able to go to Double HH siblings week for the past three years and I wouldn’t want anything different. I have made life long friends and I consider them my family. HH is my family and everyone treats each other with love, support, acceptance, and if someone has a disability it disappears at HH because we look beyond that and I love it so much. I’ve taken a strong interest in ASL, and working in special education because I want to help people. I’m thinking about becoming a counselor during the summer because HH is home, its a safe place for me and I don’t want to lose that feeling of happiness.

Shannon Traynor, Blauvelt, NY

Home Away From Home

I lost my mother to AIDS when I was just 7 years old. I was confused and a lost child, trying to understand and find answers. “Why her? Why me? What is “AIDS”? What is “HIV”? How can it be cured?”.  I started camp shortly after and eventually received the best answers I could of got. I spend the rest of my childhood, growing into who I am today, at this wonderful place. When I was away from camp, I didn’t feel like I “fit in” anywhere else, but the moment those bus doors opened and we were greeted by our counselors, it felt like home. It felt right. The next decade I spent 1 week of my summer here, and always begged for more time. The boat ceremony was always the hardest. So many tears were shed that night, but we all were hopeful. Hopeful we all were able to make it back the following year. Some didn’t, but most did. I haven’t been back to camp in a decade now. I miss it so much. There is plenty of times when I just sit and think about it, and dreamed of coming back one day as a counselor, or just a visit. I now have my own 7 year old beautiful healthy little girl that calls me mommy. I take what I learned at camp with me through every day parenting. Never to judge others, always be kind, have courage in everything you do, and to never give up. Double H Ranch is my home away from home, and I cherish it so deeply. I even have it tattooed on me! If anyone is looking into bringing your child here, do it. You wont regret it, and they won’t ever stop sharing the memories with you that they had there. I’m turning 28 years old this year, and I feel amazing. Beating odds is an amazing feeling, but not thinking about turning 30 soon is!! Haha! I want to say a huge thank you to all of the counselors because without all of your encouragement and love, we may not of pushed ourselves to try harder. So thank you all!!

Erica G., Binghamton, NY

Best First Time Ever

This is the first time we ever went to a camp. A sleep away camp at that. At first when our mother told us that we were going to a sleep away camp, we was very skeptical about going. Ayishah and I tried to talk her out of letting us go, but of course that didn’t work. When we got there I felt homesick, but after we saw that we were not alone having life-threatening illnesses, I felt right at home! So did my sister! Double H is the right loving camp we ever went to with so many fun activities and especially going to “Great Escape”. We can definitely say that we’re looking forward to more wonderful years to come

Samiyah & Ayishah, Bronx,NY

Best Summer Ever

This is the story of the time I had the best summer ever. Double H is the top best camp I’ve ever been to. All the camps that I have been to they let us do work, only went places that they picked out, and we never had any fun time. Until me and my mom went to the Valerie Fund Center, and we found out out Double H. The first time I went there, I got a little homesick. But, when we showed up at Double H I felt welcomed. People were cheering us on, I didn’t have a clue why, and they gave us hugs. I can definitely say that for the past 4 years that I have been at Double H, they have treated me like family, and I really love that about this camp. So I want to say thank you to the Valerie Fund Center, thanks to Double H, and thanks to my mom cause without her I don’t know where I would be. And This is the story of the time I had the best summer ever.

Shyann, Newark, NJ

Long Term Positive Impact of Double H

When I was a child, I started going to Double H. I spent 9 years as a camper there. The freedom that I experienced, and the feeling of “fitting in” as a little boy with Spina Bifida was profound on me. When I was a camper at Double H, I looked up greatly to my counselors, and the positive impact that they had, not only on me, but everyone else there. It has inspired me to this day. Now, I volunteer with another organization with their camping program as the camp director, and I still look back to my counselors that I had when I was younger for inspiration on fun ways of interacting with my campers who have their own special circumstances.

Double H Ranch not only gave me the freedom as a little boy to be confident in myself, but it carries with me to this day in leading camping trips with youth who have disabilities. The spirit of camp is something I can never let go.

Stefon

The Disney World of skiing

Nicholas S., who turned six year’s old in December, just made the age cut, and 2008 was his first year of skiing. His dad, Leo did not think that he would be able to do it – “he won’t ride a bike, so why would I think he would ski?” But he loves it. He’s had five opportunities to ski. Nick’s parents make only ‘tentative’ plans on the weekends because, as they tell family and friends, they are on the cancellation list which means if someone cancels at the last minute, they may receive a call that morning that there is a spot for Nick, and they pack their bag and head for the slopes. Lisa and Leo call it the Disney World of skiing.

Lisa, Leo & Nicholas S.

Cindy’s Comfort Camp

I just wanted to drop you all a quick note to say thanks for all that you did to make our recent camp (Cindy’s Comfort Camp) such a great success. This was the biggest and best group of Double H staff and volunteers that we had at any of our camps. All the Double H staff, Double H big Buddies, and Double H volunteers not only worked tirelessly to get to know the kids and deliver the program, they also made sure that our campers benefited from the uniquely special spirit of the Summer program. It made such a positive impact on the weekend and the kids. I hope that we are as fortunate in future camps to be able to benefit in this way. Our partnership is so meaningful to me, and it makes me happy and proud to see how it is blossoming. I hope too that we are able to give more volunteers to your other programs. I have some ideas about how to get more people involved.

Again, thanks so much. I look forward to seeing you all over the Winter, in the Spring, and in the Summer. I guess I’m like a bad penny now, I keep turning up!

Gerard Florio, Ph.D
Clinical Health Psychologist
The C.R. Wood Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital
(Cindy’s Comfort Camp serves children who have a parent or loved one diagnosed with Cancer)

Gerard Florio, Ph.D, Glens Falls, NY

Truly Wonderful Experience

We are confident that you have heard (and read) this before – what a truly wonderful experience you provide at Double H Ranch! We just wanted to take a moment and express our heartfelt gratitude to each and everyone of you for the great time our daughter Melanie had at camp during Session 2. From the very first second upon entering the camp grounds and being greeted with applause and cheering to the tearful singing and hugs good-bye we knew she was in good hands. In fact although you tell people that Double H stands for Health & Happiness – we know the secret (shh – we won’t tell). Double H really stands for Heavenly Hands!

Thank you for making a difference – making a difference in the lives of the campers who attend, like Melanie and also making a difference in the lives of the families too (like ours!). We are telling everyone of Mel’s adventures – whitewater rafting, overnight tent camping, and zip-lining. We have tried to always include Melanie in everything we do – to not let her physical condition prevent her spirit from experiencing all that life has to offer.

She is a blessing to us. She has transformed our lives and so often the lives of those she meets. We have been blessed by all of you – from the nurses, to the maintenance worker, to front office staff, to the board of directors, the corporate partners, to the 2nd grader reading books to raise funds, and especially the wonderful counselors in the Bear Cabin.

Thank you from all of us!
Tim, Valerie, Lisa, Melanie, Andrew & Nicole

The Sember Family