Tall trees and taller friendships

Louise Walters portrait

Louise Waters has over 100 children.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Over the past five years, the Halifax resident has single-handedly made it possible for over 100 kids with arthritis to attend the Arthritis Society’s summer camp in Nova Scotia.  For the 72-year-old, providing the funds to support these children has felt like a natural thing to do.

“I’ve been living with osteoarthritis for the past seven years. I’ve seen the toll it takes on people’s lives. I can’t help but think of how horrible it must be for children to deal with this at such a young age! The Arthritis Society has helped me manage my chronic pain and I wanted to give back.”

Louise takes pride in the fact she’s able to help her “children” in such a meaningful way.

“When I was looking at a way to contribute, I had many criteria. The Arthritis Society’s Camp JoinTogether in Nova Scotia met all of them. I’m so glad to see my donation help children in my community.”

Louise knows personally about the importance of summer camp for young children. She has fond memories of the ones she used to go to as a child, the bonds she created and “the friendships that grew as tall as the trees” that surrounded the campground.

Photography of Louise Waters“For them to be in nature, forgetting their limitations, and to open up to new people and experiences is so essential. Their disease makes them special and strong at such a young age. 

It’s good to see them just be kids, for once.”

One of her great yearly pleasures is to spend a day at the Camp with the children she’s helping. 

She has lunch with them, hears their stories, their dreams and passions. Inevitably, she’s amazed by their cheerfulness.

“The kids feel a sense of belonging, of normalcy. I love to see how excited they get on the war canoes. It’s always a highlight for me. I also can’t help but be in awe every time I see a child in a wheelchair have access to activities they could never do otherwise.”

While Camp had to be conducted online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the creativity, dedication and resourcefulness of the counsellors has not diminished.

“There are so many skills the children learn at Camp that will help them for the rest of their lives.”