This past summer, I had the opportunity to be a camp counselor at Camp GLOW. Camp GLOW is a camp run by the Archdiocese of Baltimore that serves adults with intellectual disabilities. We stayed at a retreat center for a week, where we attended daily mass in addition to a participating in a variety of typical camp activities. As I was preparing for the week, I was a bit nervous. This was my first time at Camp GLOW, while all of the other counselors had been working at there for several years. The participants were also, for the most part, Camp GLOW veterans. I wondered how everyone would react to me, a newcomer to this tight-knit group.
When I arrived, I experienced what I can only describe as an outpouring of love. I wasn’t just accepted into their community—I was embraced (figuratively and literally!) Even though I was a stranger to their community, I was welcomed in, and I was filled with a sense of freedom that came from an openness to loving and being loved as I have never experienced before. There was genuine joy at Camp GLOW because love resided there. There was love in the form of smiles, of kind words, of laughter. We shared stories, confided our fears, comforted each other when we were afraid or upset, and rejoiced in each other’s happiness.