This week’s Why I Give post comes from Margaret Walenga, the parent of a 2017 Camper. She wrote to us at LAJF explaining why she continues to support the Foundation, and thanking the staff for providing her son with the positive, “life-altering” experience of Camp Rising Sun. Read her letter below.
When we first stumbled upon Camp Rising Sun, through an alum from 35 years or so ago, who said his experience was “life-altering,” I was intrigued, but a bit skeptical. So Miles and I looked into the LAJF and Camp Rising Sun a bit more, and it seemed that his description probably wasn’t too off base. The more we read about it, the more we thought this was just too good to be true. Miles applied to a few different internships/camps for the summer, but this was all along his (and my!) first choice. You have no idea how thrilled we were to receive notification that he had been offered a spot in CRS 2017.
But actually living through the experience exceeded any of our (very lofty) expectations. When we picked Miles up from CRS, he said, ‘That was an amazing experience. There are no words to describe it or do it justice. I’m pretty sure I’ll never have another experience like that…ever.’ But it wasn’t just Miles that walked away so incredibly moved and changed for life. Every single kid I talked to that day, and certainly the kids that stayed with us pre- and post-camp, all concurred. And even for us as a family to have the (albeit brief) opportunity to host kids - from China, Egypt, Zambia, Japan, and Texas - left us all wanting more and thanking our lucky stars. I’m sure Miles is in touch with the campers, and I’m even still getting the warmest emails from the campers that stayed with us!
You don’t just pull something of this caliber off without putting an enormous amount of energy, hard work, humor, blood, sweat, and tears into it — and it showed. What gratifying work you have — and do — year in and year out. I am in awe of the entire Foundation.
So thank you for touching the hearts and minds of not just Miles, but every single kid who is fortunate enough to venture up to CRS each summer. I wish every teenager could have this opportunity, and am eternally grateful that we happened upon (and opened) an email last fall that said, ‘Camp Rising Sun, a life-altering experience’ - is it ever!
Margaret Walenga (Miles Garcia’s mom, CRS ’17)
Rising Sun families continue to give back to LAJF for years to come as a result of the transformative stories they hear and changes they see in their children first hand as they adjust to life after camp. Margaret is among the engaged parents of CRS alumni who continue to give back to the Foundation through donations, serving on committees or the Board of Directors, and sharing their experiences with future applicants and their families.