I have had alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, for four years, since I was twelve. Attending Camp Discovery for the past two summers has certainly been a life-changing experience. The open and accepting environment and the people I met gave me a different perspective. I had never met anyone else with alopecia before I attended the camp, and I had felt uncomfortable and different. Hair loss had come to represent a part of me that was somehow unacceptable, and had to be hidden. I was afraid that my peers would not accept me, however irrationally. Seeing people with all sorts of skin conditions that caused challenges far worse than mine, all of whom were positive and inspiring individuals, helped me to see that how I felt was in my control. I gained enough confidence to finally stop wearing hats and wigs in public, and I have never felt more free and confident. It was empowering to decide not to let my fears control me and force me to cover my head. This camp helped me to be myself and grow as a person, and I would love to give everyone who is in a similar situation the chance to attend.
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About Camp Discovery:
The American Academy of Dermatology’s Camp Discovery gives children with chronic skin conditions a life-changing summer camp experience. Each year nearly 360 campers benefit from Camp Discovery at no cost to their families. The Academy covers the $1,800 cost for each child who attends Camp, with the help of donations from AAD members and other generous supporters.