Michelle Cortes

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Back in 1989 to 1990, Camp Vacamas would go to PS.28 in Manhattan and pick up a bus load of us kids and take us to Camp Vacamas. I remember the experience vividly as it was one of the most enriching experiences I had ever had to date. I learned a lot and have often thought of those days fondly. I will forever be grateful for that experience.

At that time, my family and I were homeless and we lived from place to place. My mom would rent rooms and the four of us stayed there. It was hard. The greatest joy my brother and I experienced was going to camp there. We felt free from our hardships while we were there. We felt like children there, as opposed to how we felt at home which was mostly unhappy and hungry. My mother did the best she could for us but it was an extremely difficult time for all of us. In fact, when we were signed up to go to camp there, my mother had been hospitalized and was to remain in the hospital for several months. Needless to say, there were many tearful nights spent with family members who would have rather been doing anything else than to be taking care of my brother and I. My older sister was put in a group home for the duration because no one wanted to be responsible for her while my mom was ill. So yes, my brother and I escaped our dismal lives to Camp Vacamas on weekends and for a couple of weeks at the start of the summer. We also were lucky enough to go on a trip to Boston with the camp. I'll never forget it.

Today, I am an investigator for the state of New York, a mother of a wonderfully bright 3 year old, and I am in a much better place than I was at 9 years old. I came across your camp's contact information via a case I'm working on in which the person worked for your camp. It brought all those memories back to me and I must say, rather emotionally. I had to step away from my desk and cry a bit. Not out of sadness but out of gratitude. It's funny the things we don't think about for years and then one day they hit us and we become overwhelmed with emotion.