Giselle, 19, is majoring in Special Education and Psychology at Harper College. The Chicagoland native has a special connection to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. She attended Camp Blackhawk each summer from 2014-2019 and last week she was a counselor at this year’s Virtual Camp Blackhawk.
“As a counselor, it’s been great to see how camp is able to get kids to connect with each other and us,” Giselle explains.
Giselle has fond memories of her time as a camper. She loved the activities, including their pool time and the dance. She also loved the friendships she created and still keeps in touch with former campers.
“The environment was so positive. Everyone just fit in and it was great to hear the counselors talk about how happy they were to be there too.”
The sense of community that Giselle felt may have had a special impact on her in part because of how she felt growing up with epilepsy as a child. She was diagnosed with the disorder in second grade and felt like she “didn’t fit in.”
“The way I was treated has made me open up to people with their own issues. I understand what they are going through.” Giselle says. “I’m majoring in Special Education because I grew up feeling stigmatized and I’m majoring in Psychology because I am aware of the importance of mental health and helping people who feel alone.”
Giselle was thrilled when the Camp Red Leaf director – where Camp Blackhawk takes place – contacted her about being a counselor this year.
“I was counting down the days until camp started,” Giselle says.
While a virtual version of Camp Blackhawk cannot be the same as it is in-person, Giselle felt that it was a very positive experience and was moved by how much the campers loved interacting with each other. Here’s what she has to say:
“Being a camp counselor was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had done. Making campers smile and seeing them happy was one of the most amazing rewards ever. Camp definitely inspired me to study special education and psychology. I want to create positive change on those who are like me and live with epilepsy. All these campers have a special place in my heart and I definitely can’t wait to see all of them again next year. Camp is my happy place & will always be a second home for me.”