Our next runner-up this year is Ethan, who attended TU Camp this past summer in Georgia. Ethan's story reminds us just how much camp can mean to a teen, and of the healing power that we all find in rivers. Thank you, Ethan, for sharing your story.
Camp: Georgia TU camp at Rabun Gap
TU Chapter: Coosa Valley Chapter
Favorite Stream: White River in Cotter, Arkansas
Thoughts on Being Outside: I love being outdoors and on the water. It relaxes me. I do not have to think of anything other than fishing.
Trout Unlimited summer camp is a week focused completely on me! Oh yeah! And the other kids too. What an amazing, friend making, fishing, learning, good food eating week it was!
My reasons for enjoying my week at trout camp was probably a little different than most of the other campers. In 2010, my dad was diagnosed with a heart condition that made it necessary for him to be listed for a heart transplant. He got sick so fast that he could not wait for a donor heart so he was implanted with an LVAD (left ventricular assists device). This was the same thing that Vice President Dick Cheney had. My dad got his 3 weeks after Vice President Cheney.
Life on the LVAD was not easy and my dad was very sick. My mom had to focus most of her attention on him but she always tried to spend time with me too. My dad did not feel well enough to focus on much of anything. In the blink of an eye, my life changed! I went from being home schooled and traveling all over the country with my parents to being placed in public school and staying with different family members during my dads frequent hospital stays. We no longer traveled or even planned anything much further away than dinner. I stopped doing my favorite things like fishing and fly-tying. It just wasn't the same without my dad and I had to help my mom. I didn't have time to do the things that I once took for granted. My mom needed me to help her take care of my dad and all the things at home.
On July 2nd, 2012, my family received a phone call that would change our lives forever! Emory university hospital called to tell us they had a heart for my dad! My dad's transplant has been a great success and a daily gift to my family. Now, I am back to fishing and fly-tying and I was given the wonderful opportunity to have A WEEK FOR ME! Before my dads transplant I could not have attended TU camp because everything and everyone had to focus on my dad but this year I received the gifts of freedom from worry, the opportunity to make new friends, learn new techniques in fly fishing and fly tying, and spending a week that was all about me! I will remember my week at Trout Unlimited Camp for the opportunity it was and the carefree memories it gave me. I will try to always remember what a gift it is to enjoy the small things in life. Small things aren't so small when you do not think you will ever be able to do them again. A hero gave me my fishing buddy back when he signed his donor card. I will be forever thankful!