Camper and Staff Testimonials
Usiel Perez Cortes
I am currently attending IUPUI for Physical Education. I have now been involved with PALS for a few years. I was a camper from ages 8-13, and the summer of 2017 will be my 4th year as a staff member(3 as a team leader and this year my first as an Assistant Director in charge of Team Leaders). After my experience with PALS as staff member, I couldn't see myself spending my summers differently. Everything clicked just after a few days, I realized as a staff member the reasons why I enjoyed attending NYSP/PALS in the summer as a kid. It wasn't the new sports we learned, the delicious meals they served us, the bikes they gave away, or even the days they would take us to The Cove; it was the instructors caring, patient, and loving way they would teach, that made us excited to learn and come back the next day; it was the cooks, the servers, and staff from the dinning halls that made eating at our tables enjoyable, they made it feel like a family meal; it was our people in our community that helped and donated, that showed us people out there do care for us, they showed us love and generously can come from anyone. Every summer now, I not only think like the camper's team leader, but as the camper I was. I will make sure I do all I can to make sure every camper experiences what PALS is all about.
Hi, my name is Svea Nelson, and I was a PALS camper the year before going into high school. I grew up in a single-parent household, where money was always tight, and stress was high. Being able to go to a summer camp for FREE was a huge relief to my mom. While I was there, I learned about life skills, such as managing money and even what it meant to stay in shape. I met some friends, some of whom had backgrounds similar to my own. The year after I was a camper, I chose to be a junior team leader. I always have loved working with kids, but this really allowed me to practice having a meaningful impact on other people. I came to love helping other people. Additionally, working with children in an physical setting became an interest to me. As I moved through high school and became a team leader, my leadership skills grew, and so did my appreciation of working with kids. When I came to Purdue, I chose to be a Health and Physical Education Major. As a Junior at Purdue, I continue to work with PALS during the summer; the last two years I was the basketball instructor. I am currently the President of the Health and Kinesiology Club, which puts on a 5K to raise additional funds for PALS. I am so excited for my future as a Physical Educator. Ever since being involved in PALS, I have had a passion for giving back to people. Teaching people how to be healthy and active in their lives is my way of doing that.
I have been involved in PALS for about 4 years now - first as a team leader and now as the Service Learning Coordinator. Having been part of PALS for the past few years, I see the impact we make on the children. Growing up in a low-income household myself, I can't tell you how impactful a camp like this would have been for me and other underserved children in my community and surrounding communities. It's so hard to choose a favorite memory from camp because each interaction with a child leaves a lasting impression. But, if I had to choose, I would say my favorite part is when I take campers to Wolf Park for Service Learning. Since our camp is provided to the children through donations, we like to allow them to learn of the many diverse ways they can give back to their community. Wolf Park is always a camper and staff favorite as everyone is able to interact with animals such as wolves, coyotes and foxes. The smiles on faces as the wolves howl with us is absolutely priceless! This camp might be dedicated to the children but even as a staff member you can feel the impact this camp has on everyone in the community.