I recently had the privilege of volunteering at a unique event in Clearwater, Florida known as Pirate Camp, an outdoors camp designed for children with limb differences and their families. Created by the Never Say Never Foundation, the camp was filled with activities that ranged from sailing and fishing to arts and crafts, an obstacle course, and a host of other engaging outdoor events.
As one of the volunteers enlisted to run the arts & crafts section, I found it incredibly rewarding to assist and participate in the various creative activities. These sessions weren’t just about making things; they were about showing the kids what they could do and helping them see that their potential is limitless. The creativity on display was inspiring, and the kids tackled each project with enthusiasm.
One of the highlights of the camp was the Pirate Dance, where everyone donned their best pirate outfits and partied the night away. After seeing their creativity during arts and crafts, I couldn’t wait to see the campers’ costumes! Open Bionics volunteers for Pirate Camp annually, so I was warned that I would need to go above and beyond, and put my cosplay skills to the test. Naturally, I took that as a challenge, 3D modelling a pirate hook and 3D printing a golden arm cover for my Hero Arm!
The campers absolutely loved my Hero Arm’s flexibility in allowing me to design and create my own crazy arm covers, and the possibility of doing the same to their own Hero Arm. For more info on how I transform my Hero Arm as a means of self-expression and creativity, check out this recent blog post!
From my perspective, my Hero Arm was not only a tool that helped me to take part in crafts (check out my awesome bracelet making skills) it also became about having fun with your limb difference by owning it and personalizing it for Pirate Night.
The pirate dance was a fun, energetic event that brought laughter and joy to the campers, their families, and the volunteers. Moreover, the Never Say Never Foundation arranged for several campers to receive sponsored prosthetic devices. Witnessing the children receive these life-changing gifts was profoundly moving, and it underscored the camp’s commitment to making a real difference in the lives of the campers.
The experience at Pirate Camp went beyond just entertainment; it was a supportive space where children and families could connect with others who understand the challenges and triumphs associated with limb differences. The atmosphere was one of acceptance and mutual support, which is crucial for building confidence and a sense of community.
As the weekend concluded, it was clear that the event wasn’t just about having fun—it was about empowerment. The campers left with new friendships, a greater sense of what they could achieve, and, for some, new prosthetic devices that would assist them in their daily lives.
My takeaway from Pirate Camp was invaluable: a reminder of the importance of inclusion, support, and the difference that thoughtful technology can make. It’s a weekend that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact, both for myself and for all the young pirates who attended.
If you have a below-elbow or partial hand limb difference, register to find out more about the Hero Arm and try the technology for free at your local Open Bionics clinic.