“My name is Seth. I am eighteen years old. I was born with Spina Bifida and I’d like to use this opportunity to share some thoughts of mine about Bay Cliff Health Camp.”
So begins the autobiographical account of a camper that has grown up spending his summers on the cliffs above Lake Superior. Seth continues, “I began my first summer at Bay Cliff when I was seven years old with the goals of strengthening the muscles of my legs and improving my balance. I knew from that young age of seven that my diagnosis would test my will to succeed, but I could have never imagined what invaluable benefits I would gain from reaching my goals. That was over ten years ago, and it has taken me all that time to put into words what Bay Cliff means to me.”
Seth and his parents Chris and Joanne lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan during his earliest years as a camper and Seth continued to spend his summers at Bay Cliff after his family relocated to Oconto, Wisconsin. During this past summer, Seth was asked to share what Bay Cliff has meant to him over the years. The following narrative conveys what can happen in a place that promotes the power of promise and determination in an amazing young man. What follows is a history and a future, in Seth’s own words, during his final summer.
“My experiences at Bay Cliff have not only allowed me to overcome my own adversities, but have implored me to help others overcome their personal challenges as well. In fact, for this my final summer as a camper, I came to Bay Cliff with two therapy goals—to maintain my balance for my golf swing and more easily create topics of conversation. I also had a personal goal: to seek out and maximize the potential of not only myself, but to help unearth the potential in others as well. The truth of what I have seen is undeniable. I have never seen so many goodhearted people in one place at any given time in my life, and I can only attempt to show as much compassion towards others in my life as others have shown towards me at Bay Cliff.
“The growth of the campers is always what makes Bay Cliff special to me. I have seen my peers grow into independent young men and women, and witnessed children accomplish feats they would have never thought possible. Although the campers are what make Bay Cliff shine, I have seen signs of growth in the faces of those who serve the campers—changes that alter the course of their lives. I see the staff guide these children on amazing journeys of miraculous change. The
unmatched motivation displayed by the campers brings forth unmatched benevolence displayed by the staff.
“The experiences at Bay Cliff change the lives of the children, and the children end up changing the lives of those who guide them. A mentor and role model of mine at camp often tells the U.P. All-Stars when they come to visit: ‘A person never stands so tall as when they reach down to help a child.’ These words are not
just for those football players and their coaches, but for all to live by. All who belong to Bay Cliff learn that you can always live a fuller life by helping fill the lives of others. I have previously mistaken challenges as things that hinder us and close doors of opportunity. At Bay Cliff, I have learned to appreciate a challenge as an opportunity. One of the greatest opportunities I have ever had was to come to Bay Cliff. So I thank God every day for granting me the challenges that brought me to Bay Cliff.
“I thank God for those I have met at Bay Cliff who have guided and molded me to become the person I am, and I thank God for Bay Cliff.”
All of us at Bay Cliff have been blessed to know and love this young man. We cannot wait to hear what he accomplishes during this next phase of his life.