A little over four years ago, I took a leap, a big one. I left my life as a trial lawyer at Squire Patton Boggs and joined Flying Horse Farms.
At the time, a friend sent a card that still resides on the very full gratitude board that covers my office wall. It reads: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
And she was right. Sometimes, we discover that we took the wrong path, and it takes time to find the right fork in the road that leads us where we need to be. Other times, we find the path that allows us to live our dreams — like I found.
Joining Flying Horse Farms has been transformational.
Our work, to provide camping experiences for children with serious illnesses and their families, at no cost to them, changes lives. We’ve created a medically safe place for children and families to find respite, joy and solace.
It’s a place where a child, who has a zipper down her chest because she had a heart transplant at age 8, is not defined by her illness, but by her accomplishments. She’s not the kid with heart disease, but the kid who hit a bull’s-eye at archery.
It’s a place where a child, who knows she only has months left of her journey, can find joy in eating too many brownies, catching fish and laughing. It’s a place where she’ll find other children who truly understand her.
For our parents, it’s a place of respite — a safe place where they can leave their children and focus on their own lives, if only for a week. It’s a place where they too can be silly.
It’s a place where for a weekend they can wear a tutu, spend an afternoon in a canoe, and get to know other parents who understand what it means to have a son with an inoperable brain tumor or a daughter who struggles to breathe because of her asthma.
And while our campers’ lives are complex, at camp, they are simple. There is nothing they cannot do because our programming is designed for “yes.” “Yes, Sally, you can do the zip line across the lake. Your wheelchair isn’t a barrier because we can belay you to the top of the ropes course, and you can soar.”
Live your dreams
For me, camp is where I can live my dream. When I took that leap four years ago, I found a path that led me home.
Many of us use the end of the year, and the beginning of a new one, to take stock in our lives. Perhaps now is the time for your leap. If the stars line up and luck brings you the chance, don’t hesitate too long. You might find a path that takes you to your dream.
Mimi Dane is the CEO of Flying Horse Farms, a camp for children with serious illnesses. Located in Mt. Gilead, the camp serves hundreds of children each year — free of charge.