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  • Cameron Wacker

Giving Back: Summer Jam for Camp Hope

By Cameron Wacker Camp Hope, a week-long summer camp for teenagers and young adults with disabilities in the Chicagoland area, is an encouraging force in the lives of many. The Summer Jam for Camp Hope fundraiser, arranged by Lake Forest High School student Nicholas Nassar, will be held Saturday, June 15 at Gorton Center in Lake Forest to raise money and bring awareness to the work done at Camp Hope.


Nicholas Nassar, a rising senior at Lake Forest High School, is motivated to help others. After working with service organizations such as GLASA and Misericordia, he learned about Camp Hope through one of his close friends. He was immediately captivated by its mission: providing an oasis for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Nicholas Nassar (right) and his buddy Billy get together during a Lake Forest High School football game.


“Camp Hope is special to me because I’ve always felt a calling and great meaning to helping the disabled,” said Nassar. “My grandfather, who is no longer alive, made sure to instill a service mindset in our family and I think he’d be proud of me.”


Last summer, Nassar dedicated his time to volunteer as a buddy at Camp Hope, introducing him to his assigned camper, and new friend, Billy.

  “Billy and I developed a connection quickly during the week talking about sports and playing football,” said Nassar.


The buddy system at Camp Hope, which pairs campers and buddies on a one-to-one basis, provides campers with 24/7 assistance, allowing them to have a comfortable summer camp experience. Buddies help their campers with each of their needs, ranging from activities like swimming to supporting their campers in daily tasks such as eating and showering.

“The thing I love most about Camp Hope is the community’s energy,” Nassar said. “The connection I saw the campers have with each other was unlike any that I have ever had.”


Nassar’s relationship with Billy flourished beyond their memorable week together.


“After camp, we got breakfast together and I brought him onto the field for my games.”

This Saturday at Gorton Center, Nassar hopes to bring our community together to give back to Camp Hope. The event features a performance by Coach House, a band composed of former Lake Forest High School graduates and Nassar’s close friends. Baked goods from Bent Fork will be available for purchase, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to Camp Hope. The Summer Jam event will also have La Plancha Tacos and Kung Fu Tea available for purchase.


“It’s not just Camp Hope,” Nassar said. “Helping the disabled is one of the most fulfilling things I have done, and no matter what organization it is through, I think that it is one of the best services we can do as a community.”


While applications to be a Camp Hope buddy for Summer 2024 are now closed, there are many other ways to get involved with the program. Camp Hope uses daytime volunteers during their two summer camp sessions and hosts various events throughout the year for their campers. For more information on how to get involved, please visit



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