Parenting a special needs child is hard work, but there IS help. But after your special needs child is no longer a child, what then? That’s the question Dick Sesler asked once his son, Brent, became an adult. What now?
This idea was Sesler’s spark for starting Camp Blue Skies, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The mission of Camp Blue Skies is to keep the learning and the fun going well into adulthood through recreation, socialization and life skills education.
And like childhood, the first 10 years have come and gone quickly.
“It goes faster every year,” says Sesler with a chuckle. “It’s still an enormous undertaking every year, but something we’re really proud of.”
What started with one week at the YMCA’s Camp Harrison, south of Wilkesboro, 10 Octobers ago, has now expanded to two one-week camps in North Carolina, two one-week camps outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and a weekend after Thanksgiving at the YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird on Lake Wylie.
“The camps keep filling up, so we have to keep expanding,” says Sesler. His son, Brent, still attends the camps and is even known as the “mayor of Camp Blue Skies” for his outgoing personality and welcoming demeanor.
There is a small cost for campers, but sponsors and donors underwrite most of the expenses, and the foundation holds three fundraisers a year to make hosting the camps possible. That is a year-round job for Sesler, and one he relishes.
The Dunstan Group has been on board with Camp Blue Skies from the very beginning. Sesler was introduced to The Dunstan Group Founder and President Scott Dunstan by friends, “before the first T-shirt was printed,” says Sesler, and their relationship has grown as the camp has grown.
The Dunstan Group is now the sole provider of T-shirts, water bottles, cinch sacks, and lanyards that every camper gets when they come to Camp Blue Skies. Beyond that, The Dunstan Group provides unique branded items and apparel for the camp store as another way to support the mission and give campers more ways to remember their fun-filled week.
“We’ve had so much fun working for Camp Blue Skies over this past decade,” says Dunstan. “Their passion for providing camping experiences to adults with developmental disabilities is energizing to be a part of.”
Dunstan knew Camp Blue Skies would want to celebrate its 10th anniversary in a big way, too. The Dunstan Group worked closely with Sesler for special themed gear for the occasion, provided giveaways, and even sponsored the 10th Anniversary Jubilee! The relationship is one that both Sesler and Dunstan value for its mission and its outcome.
“It’s a relationship of creativity and trust and execution,” says Sesler about The Dunstan Group’s work. “Those three end up with really good products that are thoughtful, creative, exciting, and fun.”
“We’re honored to be a small part of their growth and branding story,” agrees Dunstan. “We look forward to continuing to grow with them as they expand their mission.”
Want to learn more about Camp Blue Skies? They’d love for you to visit, volunteer, or support their work: https://campblueskies.org