Pathfinder

  • Mu Alpha Theta is selling donuts this Wed. morning for $2 to benefit Every Child's Hope. Donations are also accepted.

  • Open house is Thurs. Aug. 23 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Invite your parents to come meet your teachers!

  • School picture day for freshmen through juniors is Wed. Aug. 22, through your science class.

Filed under features, showcase

Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

Posing+with+camp+director+Rob+Darroch%2C+senior+Emily+Rayfield+stands+in+front+of+the+climbing+tower.+Rayfield+had+been+going+to+Sunnyhill+Adventures+since+she+was+7.+%22+It%27s+a+summer+camp+for+kids+and+adults+with+disabilities%2C+but+my+family+and+friends+like+to+attend+too.+The+camp+provides+activities+that+all+disabilities+are+capable+of+doing.+It%27s+incredible+to+see+people+in+wheelchairs+make+it+to+the+top+of+a+50-foot+climbing+tower+and+to+see+people+with+MOT+skill+difficulty+shoot+a+bow+and+arrow.+Camp+provides+an+escape+for+people+with+disabilities+and+allows+them+to+achieve+things+that+seem+impossible+to+people+without+disabilities%2C%22+Emily+said.
Posing with camp director Rob Darroch, senior Emily Rayfield stands in front of the climbing tower. Rayfield had been going to Sunnyhill Adventures since she was 7.

Posing with camp director Rob Darroch, senior Emily Rayfield stands in front of the climbing tower. Rayfield had been going to Sunnyhill Adventures since she was 7. " It's a summer camp for kids and adults with disabilities, but my family and friends like to attend too. The camp provides activities that all disabilities are capable of doing. It's incredible to see people in wheelchairs make it to the top of a 50-foot climbing tower and to see people with MOT skill difficulty shoot a bow and arrow. Camp provides an escape for people with disabilities and allows them to achieve things that seem impossible to people without disabilities," Emily said.

Courtesy of Emily Rayfield

Courtesy of Emily Rayfield

Posing with camp director Rob Darroch, senior Emily Rayfield stands in front of the climbing tower. Rayfield had been going to Sunnyhill Adventures since she was 7. " It's a summer camp for kids and adults with disabilities, but my family and friends like to attend too. The camp provides activities that all disabilities are capable of doing. It's incredible to see people in wheelchairs make it to the top of a 50-foot climbing tower and to see people with MOT skill difficulty shoot a bow and arrow. Camp provides an escape for people with disabilities and allows them to achieve things that seem impossible to people without disabilities," Emily said.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Leaving just two days after graduation, senior Emily Rayfield is spending her summer in Dittmer, MO to go to Sunnyhill Adventures camp, which she has attended since she was seven years old.  

The camp provides activities that [people of] all abilities are capable of doing. It’s incredible to see people in wheelchairs make it to the top of a 50-foot climbing tower and to see people with most skill difficulty shoot a bow and arrow. Camp provides an escape for people with disabilities and allows them to achieve things that seem impossible to people without disabilities,” Emily said.

Emily’s older brother, alumni Scott Rayfield was born with Cerebral Palsy, and it was through him that her family found out about the camp. Her brother and other campers have shown her that the only true thing that holds a person back is themselves.

Courtesy of Emily Rayfield

“I have a tattoo that says ‘Life Without Limits’ on my foot because of my older brother and all people with disabilities. My brother’s Cerebral Palsy affects the entire right side of his body. His balance is unsteady, his right foot turns in towards his body and his right hand cannot fully open. He drools, is deaf in his left ear and when he talks it sounds like squeals and grunts to most people. None of this has held him back though,” Emily said. “He has climbed cliffs in the Grand Canyon, loves to ski, participated in every camp activity, lives on his own and has a job. Seeing someone so close to me accomplish so much by the age of 22 is incredible. He never lets anything stop him, so why should I? The challenges that people are able to overcome is unimaginable and really inspires me to live a life without limits.”

Generally, kids without disabilities do not attend Sunnyhill, but the Rayfield family changed that when they started to bring family and friends over the years. Many of the kids, now juniors and seniors in high school, feel that this experience was life-changing.

“[Sunnyhill] has made me different than the majority of other people because I think I know how to communicate with people with disabilities better than others. Other people kind of talk down to people with differences–kind of like they are babies–when in fact you can communicate with them just the same,” senior Kacie Bergh said.

Courtesy of Emily Rayfield

Emily believes that bringing her friends to Sunnyhill impacted her as well.

Having my friends come to camp made it even more special. Most of them don’t live or regularly interact with someone with disabilities, so it was a completely new experience for them. It was always so cool to see everyone bond with some of the other campers and be able to find other ways to communicate with someone less verbal. I think it helped them, and even me, to take a step back and realize how privileged and fortunate we are,” Emily said.

Sunnyhill camp lasts all summer, ending at the beginning of August. Most seniors would shy away from the idea of losing their entire summer for a camp, but Emily is certain this is where she belongs.

Spending 11 weeks as a camp counselor was an easy decision for me. I have wanted to work there ever since my first year as a camper. I love the place, the campers and the workers. The counselors come from all parts of the world through this program called Camp America. Everyone is typically between the age of 18 and 25, so it’s fun to learn about their countries and compare how different and similar they are. I cannot wait to see and experience all of the different types of disabilities that people have and see their outlook on life. As a camper, we are able to interact with people with disabilities, but we aren’t responsible for them or for helping them participate in the activities. As a counselor, I will have more responsibility, and it will become more personal seeing my campers finish each activity,” Emily said.

This life experience has not only shaped Emily as a person but also helped her figure out her future plans.

“Originally, I always wanted to be a special education teacher, but I have since realized how unique and special Sunnyhill Inc. is. In the fall, I will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study nonprofit management,” Emily said. “I’d like to one day be a camp director at Sunnyhill or run an organization similar to it in another part of the world. I’d like to give everyone with a disability the opportunity to participate in these types of activities and potentially accomplish more than others believe they can.”

When I’m not around, you can bet he turns to her for his needs and her approval, and she is always there for him. Of course, she is his sister–they fight and annoy each other at times. But at the end of the day, Emily is Scott’s best friend.”

— Ann Rayfield

At the end of the day, Emily loves her brother and is proud to be able to communicate with him.

“When my mom’s not around, Scott often turns to me for help with communication or completing fine motor tasks. What sounds like squeals to most people, sounds like the foundations of words to my family and me. He uses a mixture of talking and sign language to communicate, but often times that can be difficult for people who haven’t known him for awhile. His sign language isn’t that great either because he can’t fully open his hand, and he gets confused when spelling words,” Rayfield said. “His texting has to be one of the cutest things ever and has shown us how his brain processes what we say. He says things like ‘you mom tennis today’ which means, ‘you’re playing tennis today mom.’ It has helped us find better ways to explain more complicated things to him. He loves to know what everyone is doing at all times.”

Courtesy of Emily Rayfield

Ann Rayfield, Emily and Scott’s mom, says that the sibling’s relationship is special. She knows that Emily is a strong advocate for Scott and a very supportive sister.

“I’ve always called [Emily] Scott’s second mom. When I’m not around, you can bet he turns to her for his needs and her approval, and she is always there for him. Of course, she is his sister–they fight and annoy each other at times. But at the end of the day, Emily is Scott’s best friend,” Ann said.

In the future, Ann knows that Emily will go far in life and continue to help her brother and others with disabilities.

“What I know for sure is that Emily is destined to make a difference in the lives of many people who have disabilities. Her tattoo says, ‘Life Without Limits.’ This is her championing the cause of all people with a disability, but it holds true for her own life as well. She can do anything, be anything and go anywhere she wants. She will do great things; I’m confident of that,” Ann said. “The other thing I know for sure is Emily will continue to make a difference in her brother’s life. She will always be his strongest advocate, cheerleader, protector and friend.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Writer
Katie Spillman, PHOTO EDITOR
Grade: 12 Years on staff: 2 Life soundtrack: “Daydreaming” by Paramore Most passionate about: “Equality in all forms. I think the worst thing a person can do is treat someone as less than equal.” Favorite dance move: “I’m a terrible dancer! So none.”
2 Comments

2 Responses to “Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others”

  1. Ruth Adams on May 7th, 2018 2:15 pm

    Lovely story! Great things ahead for you Emily and so happy to hear that Scott is doing so well!

  2. Angee Keller on May 7th, 2018 7:32 pm

    Great article Katie! Emily, I’m so proud of you in your conviction in supporting and helping others. Your experience this summer will be so amazing for you, your campers and the other counselors as well. My heart is filled with joy for you. The college path you have chosen suits you well! Congratulations Emily!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    Alumni Stories

    Alumna Shannon Anderson follows her passions in biology and social justice

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Junior Landon Dupont supports other military families through fundraising

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Sophomore Tony Morse gains positive outlook from struggles with anxiety and depression

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Sophomore Caroline Judd thrives in new lifestyle after recovering from eating disorder

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Meet the junior artists

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Sophomore Katie Solodar overcomes anxiety and advocates for mental illness awareness

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Students reflect on their struggles with mental health

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Senior Stephanie Ingberg attends Prom after E. coli battle

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Junior Audrey Heathcote attends Washington University medical program

  • Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others

    features

    Senior Salomi Inje works towards her dreams at St. Luke’s Hospital

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High
Senior Emily Rayfield spends her summer serving others