Flying horse farms is not a farm, nor do they have any horses. But what they do have is serious fun.
The SeriousFun camps, formerly known as The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, was founded by Paul Newman in 1988, and now is a network of 30 camps for children with serious illnesses. Flying Horse Farms opened in 2010, in Gilead, Ohio and hosts about 900 children and families each year, all at no cost to their participants! Each week a new batch of kids arrives, all with similar illnesses… and the fun begins.
Talking with Alexa Donner, a program coordinator at the Flying Horse Farms, was an absolute joy. Alexa told me that many people come up to her and say it must be hard, challenging work serving with kids with serious illnesses, but she explained that this completely misses the point. Camp is the one place where kids come to put aside their illness and have fun… it’s where their illness doesn’t interfere with who they are, and surrounded by their peers, are empowered to explore and dive deep into the joys of camp. They are beyond happy, and being a part of this is so much fun.
When I visited the camp, I was blown away by how awesome the facilities are. It’s not the kind of camp you’d find in the parent trap — it’s beautiful, air-conditioned and very well coordinated. For a camp run with donations and volunteers, this is beyond impressive. Unfortunately, though, there are no horses on the farm (except one, hidden flying horse) — the camp’s name comes from a children’s book called Big Red Barn, which Alexa insisted I read.
I hope you join me for the 8th episode of podcast on a journey through camp, what it’s like helping these kids, what kind of difference it makes, and how we can get involved. I can still hear the magic of the camp echoing in Alexa’s voice. It is palpable the difference that they make, and how rewarding it is.
Also published on Medium.
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