“I give my parents all the credit in the world for having the foresight to send me to summer camp.”

Jim Marc-Aurele grew up in Massachusetts and was just six years old when he spent his first week at a summer camp in Maine. Now in his late 40s, he credits his summer camp experience with giving him the self-confidence and leadership skills he needed to become an occupational therapist and earn his MBA.

The summer camp he attended served young people from inner city Boston and had an integrated program for kids with physical disabilities. Jim has cerebral palsy and was the only person at his school with a physical disability.

“My parents realized I needed more experiences and to be around other kids with disabilities. Going to camp gave me the opportunity to try and do new things. It was very intuitive on their part to know that’s what I really needed. The perspective that camp gave to me was that there were a lot of other kids with disabilities – that I wasn’t the only one. It introduced me to a whole new world and was very eye opening.”

For Jim, the focus at camp was on what he could do versus what he couldn’t do.

“It was life changing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience. It was my first opportunity to do things on my own and I gained a lot of confidence from being independent. I really benefited from that and it helped when I was entering the professional world.”

Jim worked as an occupational therapist for 20 years before changing his career track to supply chain and logistics, which he is in charge of for Mid Coast -Parkview Health.

He joined the Pine Tree Society Board of Directors last spring and his personal experience is one of the things that drew him. He has a lot of first-hand experience: he attended summer camp until he became a counselor then grew to become the director of the disability unit.

“When you have a disability, you often have to prove yourself to people and show what you can do. My experiences at camp gave me the confidence to do that.”

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