A Thousand Summers works with some truly amazing young people because of donors like you. Isabella, known to her friends as Izzy, is definitely one of them. This remarkable young woman from WaKeeney, Kansas, is already on her way to proving that there are no limits to what she can achieve. We hope you enjoy her inspirational story.
A town of only 2,000 people, WaKeeney had only so much to offer a bright young student
looking to accomplish “big things in life.” As luck would have it, Izzy and her mom happened
to hear about Cheley Colorado Camps and the John Austin Cheley Foundation (now A Thousand Summers) from a friend and decided to apply. The then 13-year-old Izzy was awarded a four-week scholarship including travel and equipment to attend a wilderness-based extended stay summer camp. When Izzy left the small town that was all she had known and arrived at Cheley Colorado Camps, she embarked upon an adventure that changed the path of her life forever.
The four weeks away from home and experience the outdoors in new ways began a transformational process as Izzy learned and experienced many new and amazing things. While living and working with others, she tried new activities, scaled peaks, and became more independent, self-sufficient, and adventurous. As a result, she began to grow and make new friends and formed many lasting relationships.
One of these friendships allowed Izzy to learn about the different educational opportunities in the world – specifically the advantages of boarding schools. To accomplish the “big things in life” that she had in mind, Izzy decided that she wanted to attend one of the top boarding schools in the nation. She took all of the tests and applied for financial assistance and, because of her tenacity, was accepted to and attended Salem Academy in Winston Salem, NC on scholarship. Established in 1772, Salem Academy is one of the most highly regarded and oldest boarding schools for girls in the nation.
Izzy returned to Cheley Colorado Camps in 2018 for her fourth summer having successfully
completed the Capstone Service Program. Her Capstone project allowed her to serve the school and community in which she lived by volunteering at a local Kindergarten and also at the local Children’s Museum. As a young woman dedicated to applying the skills she learned at camp, she encouraged 26 of the 200 students at her school to join her in volunteering there as well. She made these activities a permanent club at her school.
Izzy expanded her project by introducing an ‘Adopt-a-Grandparent’ program where she paired girls at her school with elderly people in the community to participate in local events together, celebrate the holidays together as well as share in ‘old fashioned letter writing’. Her mentor and dean of students at Salem Academy, Lauren Rogers, says that Izzy is committed to being an active and engaged member of her community, and that type of dedication will be extremely important to her success at school and in life.
It was tough for Izzy’s mother to let her go, but when asked what attending camp has done for her daughter she said, “The confidence from going to camp let her do what she is doing today. Camp changed her. She learned how to peak a mountain, and that when you get thrown off a horse you dust yourself off and get back on. She is now able to go away to school and get the opportunities in life that she couldn’t have gotten here at home.”
Needless to say, Izzy IS going to accomplish big things in life, and we can’t wait to see what is in store for her. Izzy’s message to the donors who helped make her campership possible is: “Thank you for giving me this amazing experience and giving me the opportunity to go to camp. It will forever be in my heart.”