“He was comfortable being there.”

That’s all it took for Luka’s big sister, Ilyana, to know Pine Tree Camp was going to be a special place. Luka is five years old and this is his first summer at Camp Pine Cone.

“Back in 2021, Luka was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” she recalled. “Finding a community with opportunities for enrichment and recreation had been challenging up until we found Pine Tree Camp.” 

Before he was old enough to attend day camp, he and his family came to Family Camp and stayed overnight together in a cabin.

“For the past two winters, my family and I spent a weekend at Pine Tree Camp to introduce Luka to the accessible facilities and adapted activities that he will enjoy at his camp stay this summer. Right off the bat, Pine Tree Camp met his needs and more.”

They were impressed with how accessible the cabins were and, in addition to spending time together, they loved how they were able to build community.

“The counselors made sure we could do anything we wanted. They included all the kids in all the activities and no one was on the sidelines. It was a good fit. Luka got along with all the other kids and my parents got to talk with other families.”

The experience inspired Ilyana personally. For her high school senior project, she chose Pine Tree Camp. She created a fundraising campaign which included an online donation platform, a flyer, social media outreach and a door-to-door campaign to share what she was doing and why.

“The goal behind my fundraiser was to contribute to the Open Door Policy so Pine Tree Camp can continue changing lives. It has certainly been welcoming to my brother.”

This fall, Ilyana heads off to nursing school knowing she made a difference for Maine kids with disabilities and that her brother will create memories and friendships that will last long after his Camp Pine Cone experience is over. 

“I think it was great that we were able to come up and visit and see it for ourselves,” she concluded. “I went to a summer camp and families just dropped their kids off. I really like that we had the chance to check it out together with him.”

Learn more about Family Camp, Camp Pine Cone and Pine Tree Camp’s Open Door Tuition policy. Since 1945, Pine Tree Camp has welcomed all who could benefit regardless of their ability to pay the tuition.

The next Family Camp will take place September 27 – 29, 2024.

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