It’s the song that has been sung every day of summer camp for 32 years—a message that brings unity and affirms the mission and community of ESP. And yet, even after 15 years of my summers strung together, I am still realizing how true those words really are… We are ESP, you and me.
12 years ago, Chad and Kim were camp counselors. Typical college students, singing this song alongside me and 25 other students who had chosen to spend their summers providing camp to individuals of all abilities. As we did every day, we would gather in the morning for a ceremony called “Flag.” At Flag, we humorously shed light on the day’s events to come, we sing camp songs, give the Hip, Hip Hooray accolade to camper’s successes and it all begins all with a pledge to the flag followed by the collective singing of the ESP song. We are ESP, you and me. That summer, we had no idea how true those words would be.
Even as a young manager, I was fond of matchmaking. I’ll never forget sitting at my desk one late May evening placing Kim, an adorable, sweet, tiny blonde friend in the same bowling lane as Chad, a spunky, loud and full of life friend. They were meant to be. And then seeing them at the end of the summer, suntanned as they tubed and flirted down the Chattahoochee river alongside their ESP buddies. That summer love was formed through the bond of servitude. ESP, you and me.
It was a year later that an orchestration was underway guiding Kim to the place her and Chad first met. It was on the steps of the ESP gym that Chad placed a ring on Kim’s finger. That love blossomed into a relationship founded as ESP as their meeting mark. ESP, you and me.
And then there was a message in the middle of a camp season a 4 years ago. A tearfully beautiful message of both heartbreak and hope. Chad and Kim’s firstborn son was diagnosed at 3 months of age with a chromosomal deletion, carrying with it many challenges, differed expectations and a life of therapy. And as I read their message and looked out at the kids playing at camp, I realized that my friends, who met and united right here, would now be on the other side of our mission as ESP parents. Her message, while full of heartbreak, ended with hope as she, unlike many parents, knew who and where to go. She knew she had a community waiting for them with open arms. She knew she had a place to tell her son about where he would be welcomed and adored. It was a place they could look forward to. And look forward they did. We are ESP, you and me.
And this summer, it will all come full circle. Kim reached out, “Hayes is 4, can he come to camp? We’ve been waiting 4 years for this!”
Chad and Kim entered into ESP for a new parent meeting to prepare for camp, amazed by the growth and blown away by the new building and the resources we now provide. And yet, it was almost as if they never left. After-school friends who were campers 10 years ago greeted them as if they saw them the day before. Once a part of the family, always a part of the family—ESP, you and me.
And as I watched their four-year-old Hayes, bright eyed, red hair and full of life delightfully participating in the flurry of activity in the building..... I couldn’t help but to flash back to that summer 12 years ago, that engagement 11 years ago and the perfect little human surrounded by ESP love and be reminded once again… that these people and this place are all meant to be. We are ESP, you and me.
The beautiful family