Living with heart disease is a struggle. For children growing up with it, living with heart disease can seem very limiting. However organizations such as Camp O’Dayin strive to bring the same opportunities to children with heart disease. Senior Alexa Shelton, a business administration major and economics minor——interested in working with nonprofits after graduation—decided to work with Camp O’Dayin to complete her service-learning.
Camp O’Dayin was started in 2002 when founder Sara Meslow returned from volunteering at a specialized summer camp in California for children with heart disease and upon her return to Minnesota she decided to start a similar program in the Midwest.
Camp O’Dayin serves to help children with heart disease and bring them together to give them opportunities to connect with other children and empower them through fun activities and team building.
Shelton first learned about Camp O’Dayin through her sister who coached the camp director’s daughter in hockey. When she learned about Camp O’Dayin she was eager to get involved with the organization so she decided to volunteer as a camp counselor with her sister over the summer.
Due to the nature of the camp, Shelton had to go through specialized training before she could become a camp counselor. Through online training and in-person training she learned how to adapt activities to children with heart disease as well as identifying warning signs and preventative methods to reduce the risk of injury with the campers.
Shelton described the day to day activities of the camp,
“Each day there was a different theme that gave the kids an opportunity to have fun and get to know each other. One of my favorites was pirate day, so we all made pirate hats and we did a lot of team building activities which was really nice to bring all the kids together.”
Shelton also talked about how important the organization was to her,
“I want to work with nonprofits for my entire career, because I learn so much from kids. They go through so much, but they’re still so innocent, happy, energetic, and excited about life regardless of what’s going on. They always remind me that things happen in life, but we don’t have to be negatively impacted by it.”
Alexa Shelton’s desire to help others and make a difference is a strong example of selflessly serving others. Thanks to Shelton a lot of children had a fun and exciting summer experience and shows the important work that service-learning involves.