From ages 5 to 18, with personalities and interest as varied as they come, our campers share two things in common: they have serious illnesses, and incredible spirits. They are the reason Flying Horse Farms exists, and the inspiration for everything we do.

MARIN

Marin has a way of lighting up a room. When asked about being diagnosed with a heart murmur, the quirky fourth grader giggles and lightheartedly replies, “My heart was murmuring, ‘Help! Help!’”

Doctors found the hole in Marin’s heart when she was two years old, and quickly performed surgery to repair it. It was then that Marin’s parents learned that the location of the hole in their daughter’s heart had caused other complications, including a low heart rate and bundle branch and mitral valve defects. (Bundle branch block is a delay or obstruction of the electrical impulses that make your heart beat.) Eventually, Marin will need additional surgery for her congenital heart defect and a pacemaker to compensate for her low heart rate.

But at camp, Marin is worry-free. She says, “When you drive through the arch into camp, you leave all your troubles behind.”

Marin’s favorite camp activities include making duct tape roses, spending time with the canine counselors, and getting to be silly. She lights up as she remembers the time campers were challenged to “swim” for their breakfast, diving into the pool for plastic baggies filled with Cheerios and milk. And she’ll never forget catching a fish alongside Dr. Jerry Boyle and then kissing it: “We sang, ‘I kissed a fish and I Iiked it. It tastes like cherry chapstick—and fish!’ It was hilarious!”

Accompanying Marin on her camp adventures is a stuffed character named Lamby, who travels with a special suitcase of his own, packed with changes of clothing from Marin’s grandma’s dollhouse. “At first I worried kids would make fun of me if I brought him,” Marin says. “But, really, camp turned out to be the one place I can bring Lamby and be accepted.”

That level of comfort, says Marin’s mom Sarah, is exactly what makes camp such a remarkable experience for her daughter. “Camp has helped Marin to be who she really is,” she says.

“It’s magic,” Sarah continues. “You believe in the magic because your kids believe in it. And when you see the difference in your child when they return, you just know it’s true.”