Proud To Be Limb Different: Coaching At Nubability
This past week I had the pleasure of attending and being apart of the coaching team at Nubability camp in Du Quoin, Illinois. I am exhausted, happy, inspired, and can’t wait for next year’s camp already. I don’t even know if I can put put into words how much attending this camp meant to me, but I am going to try.
I found out about Nubabilty through a Google search and immediately wanted to help out anyway that I could. I never heard of a camp helping out other limb different people before and knew that I needed to be apart of this organization. After finding Sam Kuhnert’s (Nubability Founder) information, I reached out and told him my story.
After a few weeks of playing email and phone tag, we finally got the chance to chat and I expressed how much I wanted to help out with the camp this Summer. As luck would have it, they needed extra help with their swim sport at camp so I applied for that. Another few weeks of calls and background checks, I was informed that I would be a junior coach for swimming at camp that summer!
The Build Up
The months and weeks leading up to camp were filled up with excitement and nervousness. I haven’t ever attended a camp like this before and I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know anyone at camp (coaches or campers) and just was curious to how these days would turn out. However, I knew that I have always wanted to do this and any ounce of doubt I had was immediately pushed aside by my passion to give back and to help kids with limb differences.
Arriving At Camp
I got to camp a couple days before the kids arrived to prepare and to also meet the other 60+ coaches traveling from 5 different countries. Immediately upon landing I had to head over to the shuttle to meet the other coaches in my travel group and was thrown into a culture shock. I have never been around many other people with limb differences, because growing up I was the only kid missing a hand or knew someone else who was similar but that was it.
Meeting the initial coaches was such an amazing experience to start with. Everyone was super friendly, welcoming, and just was generally interested in hearing all of our stories of who we are and how we found about camp, etc. The next couple of days were filled with meeting every coach and getting camp prepared before the start day. We were either in coach meetings, getting our area prepared, playing sports, etc.
Camp officially started on a Thursday with open sessions where kids could pick an outdoor sport to practice before regular camp started the next day. Kids were either involved with swimming, fishing, golf, or water sports. My sport was swimming, so I had a bunch of different kids join our swimming sessions this day and it was an amazing chaotic experience. Our big focus this day was to make sure that the kids were safe and having fun. A lot of these kids had a different focus sport, so having them come out to just swim and have fun was our biggest priority.
Friday, Saturday , and Sunday kicked off our focus sport sessions where we had around 12 kids all with various limb differences and ages as well. We worked on swim fundamentals, practicing holding their breathe, going off the diving board, and of course games in between. Basically we were in or around the pool from 9am to 8pm that evening. Luckily for us, it was around 101 - 105 degrees out those days, so being in the pool wasn’t a bad place to be.
During these days we were able to work with kids in groups and one-on-one working on techniques and making sure each camper felt comfortable in the water. I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was to see the kid’s progression from Friday to Sunday and how much they enjoyed being in the water and learning from other limb different coaches.
Also, one of the better parts of camp was when a parent came up and told us how much their daughter loved the camp and wanted to try out for swimming teams when she got back after previously been discouraged from a swim instructor in her hometown.
After writing this post, I still can’t even put into words how awesome and life changing this camp was. I have never felt so empowered and inspired by others with similar limb differences and just so stoked to keep helping out with Nubability for as long as they will have me. Seriously, this post hasn’t even come close to giving this camp justice, but I just wanted to write about how much fun I had and how much I am looking forward to more camps in my future.
A very special shout out to Sam, all of the volunteers, coaches, campers, and everyone else who had a part in making this camp happen. Seriously one of the better experiences I have ever experienced. If you are reading this and have a limb difference or know of someone with one, please please please reach out to me or someone at Nubability and keep spreading the word.