To Emmory, camp was life-changing

One of the most unique things about being here is finding other on a similar journey.

My name is Emmory McQueen and I attended Summer Camp at Roundup River Ranch for the first time during the 2019 camp season – and it was life-changing.

Five years ago, I was a normal 7th grader and competitive swimmer. I loved to hike, ski, and travel. But what started out as sudden shoulder pain ended up being debilitating, pain and nausea, so bad that I literally stopped eating. After a frustrating and traumatic journey to find answers, it was determined that I had MALS = Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome, severe gastroparesis, and intestinal dysmotility and a genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome—a connective tissue disorder that causes problems with my joints, hypermobility, chronic pain, intestinal failure, and the list goes on.

I will have to deal with my body and its idiosyncrasies for the rest of my life. That’s why my time at camp was a wonderful break. All week, people strategized with me to make sure my conditions didn’t prevent me from having fun. We accomplished that goal every single day.

The other gift that camp gave me was independence. I am 17 years old and I cannot be away from my parents for even just a sleepover. The way my body works is that by the time I have made it through a day, I am completely wiped out. I am old enough and smart enough to learn how to give myself my own medication, but I simply do not have the energy. My parents make my meds, and set me up with special equipment, such as braces, and pillows so I can sleep at night.  This means that camp was the first time in a very long time that I have been away from my parents. At camp, I was told it was okay to ask for help when I needed it. I cannot express how grateful I am to the staff at Roundup River Ranch.

When I grow up, I want to be a marine veterinarian and hope to one day run my own rescue hospital. My body is not going to prevent me from achieving my dreams. I may have to get creative in how I support my body, but I will take the lessons I learned at Roundup River Ranch and apply them throughout my whole life.

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