A woman with tied-back brown hair wearing a red sweatshirt dances with a group of children. The kids are dressed in casual clothing.
Haley Mapp dances at spirit time during a Children’s Hospital of Atlanta family weekend at the Will-A-Way location at Camp Twin Lakes in Winder, Georgia. (Narda Sigala/Fresh Take Georgia)

For many children, summer camp is often a home away from home. It is a safe haven where children are among others their own age. For the campers at Camp Twin Lakes in Georgia, it is a welcome break from challenges such as medical diagnoses, traumatic experiences and other obstacles they face. 

“Camp provides the opportunity for campers to feel ‘normal.’ I use normal because outside of camp, people with adversity in their childhood can feel incredibly isolated in their experience,” said Maisi Corbin, a program leader at Camp Twin Lakes. “When you get to camp, you leave all that behind. You have a community of people who truly understand your experience and it helps you feel a little bit less alone.” 

Camp Twin Lakes is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide memorable camp experiences in a way that is both medically and physically adaptive and supportive. It partners up with other organizations throughout the year to facilitate experiences such as weeklong summer camps, family weekends and even camp retreats.

Camp Twin Lakes offers camps for children with a variety of medical needs, ranging from Type 1 diabetes to juvenile arthritis and epilepsy. In addition, the organization offers camps for those dealing with challenges like separation from military parents or growing up in foster care.   

Every year, Camp Twin Lakes provides camp experiences to more than 10,000 residents of Georgia and neighboring states. Many of the camps are subsidized by different foundations so families often do not have to pay for their children to attend.

For more than 30 years, Camp Twin Lakes benefited from campers returning as staff for its programs. 

Maisi Corbin is a spring program leader for the camp’s Rutledge location and will work her second summer this year as the nature exploration supervisor. She began attending Camp Kudzu, a camp for children with Type 1 diabetes, when she was 9 years old.   

“I love camp. I always have. I genuinely believe that camp saved my life as a teenager and the thought of being able to provide that experience to campers in return encourages me to keep coming back,” said Corbin about her choice to continue coming to camp through a staff position. “I think people often underestimate the importance of camp, whether it’s CTL or any camp. The opportunity to change the course of a child’s life is incredibly rare, except at camp.” 

At Camp Twin Lakes, program leaders are hired for each season of the year to facilitate camp programs. The programs include Outdoor Adventure (OA), Waterfront and NatEx.

OA’s activities include zip lining, giant swinging, climbing rock walls and the individual ropes course. Waterfront is a position where certified lifeguards are in charge of boating, lake and pool activities. NatEx, which stands for nature exploration, offers activities including nature trails, fishing and archery, among other sports.  

“Working at camp is just such a magical experience and getting to see these communities come together and support each other and just have the time of their lives, no matter what may be going on in their life, is such a beautiful thing to get to witness,” said Emma Gilson, a summer program leader at Camp Twin Lakes. “I wouldn’t trade my job for the world.” 

Haley Mapp is a spring program leader at the camp’s Will-a-Way location. She has been a staff member at the camp for more than two years. Mapp attended Camp Ache Away for kids with juvenile arthritis when she was 9 years old. When she aged out of the program, she was hired to help lead it.

“I fell in love with camp because of the community and unconditional acceptance I felt there, because of this I decided to come back and work at camp to support other campers finding a community of acceptance,” she said.  

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