A special blog post in memory of Samantha Smith, a Camp Wonder camper
Connie Smith’s daughters Samantha, and her twin sister Catherine, lived with a rare skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa, an illness that causes the skin to be extremely fragile. Because the skin is so fragile, it can be easily injured, causing painful blisters to form. In this special blog post, Connie remembers Samantha and the time she spent at Camp Wonder, a medically-staffed summer program that gives children who suffer from serious and fatal skin diseases the opportunity to simply have fun.
To celebrate Camp Wonder’s 15th anniversary, artwork Samantha created at Camp Wonder will be featured on a product display for Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream exclusively at CVS/pharmacy locations, and proceeds of these Cetaphil products will support Camp Wonder.
Samantha was a very special young lady who always wanted to have fun and just enjoy all of life’s moments. She tried to not let her skin disease stop her from doing the things that she loved. Samantha was 17 years old when she passed away and I’m so proud of what she was able to accomplish while she was with us. Her strength and bravery inspired me every single day and she made an impact in the lives of everyone she touched. Honoring her artwork in such a special way really means the world to our family.
Samantha was fortunate to be able to attend Camp Wonder for four summers. It’s a very special place for kids who are living with skin disorders and I’ve seen – through the experience of my daughters – the impact Camp Wonder can have on a child. There is so much positive energy and acceptance that helps kids feel comfortable and they never feel singled out for being different. The experience at Camp Wonder makes kids stronger by giving them a sense of empowerment – simply by letting them just be kids.
Camp Wonder gave Samantha the opportunity to be around kids who were just like her and who understood the challenges she faced on a regular basis – because they faced them, too. But being at Camp Wonder wasn’t just about being with kids who were like her. It was also about challenging herself at camp through all the different activities that she enjoyed so much. Even when she wasn’t feeling well, she was determined to participate in her favorite activities, including climbing the rock wall. One day, when she was too weak to climb the rock wall herself, she had counselors help her reach the top, which gave her an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. She was proud that she didn’t let her illness stand in the way of doing one of the things she loved most at camp. She had an amazing support system at camp that helped her make the most of her camp experience.
Samantha also really enjoyed ‘prom night’ at camp and looked forward to it every year. She loved the idea of putting on a beautiful dress that made her feel special and just like any other kid going to prom. It was a unique experience for her and something she always talked about.
Another one of her favorite things at camp was her friends. She created very special friendships at camp that made a positive impact on her life. She stayed in touch with her friends over the years and always looked forward to going back to camp to see familiar faces but looked forward to creating new friendships, too.
It was a really exciting moment when we found out Samantha would be honored with her artwork featured as part of a special product display in celebration of Camp Wonder’s 15th anniversary. Our whole family is just so proud of her. Throughout her life, art was an outlet she used to express herself and she took great pride in it. We really appreciate the opportunity to share her artwork with the world and see it as a beautiful way to honor her legacy and creative spirit.