In 1997, we partnered with Search, Inc. to launch Planet Access. Search is a nonprofit that provides high-quality services and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This partnership is part of our initiative for social good, giving back and partnering to help leave our corner of the world a little better than we found it.
Today, Planet Access enables unique opportunities for career growth, emerging artists, accessible travel, and disability awareness training. Search For Adventure (SFA) is one of these unique opportunities. A travel program that facilitates adventure vacations for adults with disabilities, SFA has led epic and accessible trips, including hiking the historic Appalachian Trail and kayaking the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. These are often the first travel adventures that participants have ever been on.
Our Head of People, Planet, and Purpose (Sarah) and CEO (Gordon) joined a SFA trip this year at Camp Dewan in Wisconsin and returned with hearts full.
As Sarah put it: “Camp Dewan is an experience unlike any other that I’ve had with the Search For Adventure team. Having the opportunity to spend quality time with the individuals, getting to know them, and sharing some of the things I personally love most about the summer with them was so valuable.”
Camp Dewan is located outside of Burlington, Wisconsin on 55 acres that include a private lake, trails, and so much more. The camp is rented out by different groups and this is the third time that Search, Inc. has rented it for a SFA trip. The camp is close enough to Chicago – where Search is based – that it provides the opportunity to host a wide range of individuals at Search with varying degrees of accessibility needs. Sarah described that the camp is fully contained in a close area to allow for ease of staff to support individuals while also giving them the autonomy to enjoy camp however they would like.
The camp is set up with a farm-style house for sleeping, eating, and crafts; an outdoor area with a basketball court, baseball field, soccer field, and volleyball court; the lake for dock jumping, swimming, and paddle sports; and a fire pit for evening s’mores, songs, and stories.
We asked Sarah what some of her favorite moments from camp were and she shared stories full of warmth, friendship, bravery, laughter, and everything that summer camp memories are made of.
“One stand-out memory is taking a canoe paddle with a woman named Alison. She had never been on a boat before and was petrified that we would tip over. She had been watching her campmates get on the canoe and decided she wanted to be brave and give it a try. The first 5 minutes I thought we may have to turn around, but then we started talking…
We noticed the wildlife that we could see from the boat, the sounds of the birds, and the stillness of being on the water. The fear left her and as we looped around Alison asked, ‘Can we go again?’ Her bravery and our experience together made my day, if not my year.”
Sarah also recounted that their sunset bonfire was one of her favorite parts of the entire experience. The group circled around the bonfire while Gordon, his wife Karen, and Sarah set up for a true s’mores making expedition. The sun was going down and the fire was just right for roasting mallows. “Karen and I prepped the chocolate and the graham crackers while Gordon mass roasted marshmallows over the fire. All the while the group sang showtunes with the resident musician.”
There were also many small moments that made a lasting impact: playing a competitive basketball game with brothers Henry and Jimmy, watching Henry help a fellow camper with limited mobility play basketball by rebounding her shots on the basket, the love between Curtis and Pam, an inseparable couple who were always helping each other out and doing every activity together. And of course, playing hot potato with the group where the winner got the first s’mores of the evening.
Everyone deserves opportunity, and since 2004, more than 200 individuals have taken 193 trips to 43 destinations around the U.S. with Search For Adventure. Our team is proud to partner with Search, Inc. and the stoke is already high to see what trips are coming up next.
For more inspiration from Search, meet Jimmy, Henry, and the Search, Inc. team in this awesome video: