If you check out Victory Junction’s website, you’ll immediately identify their tagline: “Together, we are Camp!”
That word together symbolizes everything the organization stands for: respect, empowerment, and teamwork! Picture an extended family of staff and counselors who strive to create experiences that let children and teens put aside their daily limitations and allow them the freedom and space to simply be kids.
Situated among 84 rolling acres of land in Randleman, NC, Victory Junction is the vibrant, living tribute to fourth-generation NASCAR driver Adam Petty, son of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, and grandson and great-grandson of racing legends Richard and Lee Petty. After Adam’s tragic death in 2000, the Petty family founded Victory Junction, fulfilling Adam’s own personal dream of opening a camp for seriously ill children, and the first campers arrived in 2004.
For Michelle Welborn, her vision of Victory Junction has been through a parent’s eyes, as her daughter, Lilly—now 17 years old—has been attending the camp since the age of nine.
“We began with a tour of the camp, then attended a family weekend,” shares Michelle. “We were extremely comfortable with all aspects of the camp, particularly the medical care available to campers.”
Lilly went on to attend summer camp during the neuro-genetic week until she was 16, the maximum age allowed for summer camp. But the Victory Junction experience has been very much a family affair—as is typical of many participants.
“We attended two family camps, we are donors, and were featured as Ambassadors for Hearts of Victory Fundraising in Concord, NC, in 2014,” says Michelle. “Lilly was featured in a video raising awareness for fundraising events, where her father’s firm, the Law Offices of Timothy D. Welborn, was a corporate sponsor, and Tim is currently Chair of the Victory Junction board.”
The Welborns’ older daughter, Logan, sang the national anthem at the Run to Victory event in 2017, and was a camp counselor in 2019. Clearly, the family’s love and devotion to the Victory Junction mission is strong.
But what is most powerful is Michelle’s reflections on what Victory Junction has meant to Lilly.
“From day one, Lilly believed that Victory Junction was built for her,” she explains. “She called it her camp and talked about it all year until it was time to go. When she came home, she resumed her year-long wait until next time. I believe every child that attends VJ believes the same. This is one place they can be themselves, where they are encouraged to try new experiences and meet friends that understand the life they live.”
“They are inspired to reach higher by peers who accept them for who they are,” adds Michelle.
And yes, it takes a village—composed of the highest-caliber, well-trained counselors and staff, who stand out as loving and kind in every situation. The on-site medical team also sets the camp apart with their impeccable care, as do the state-of-the-art facilities, and the ratio of campers to counselors.
The camp experience can also be life-changing for parents, and Michelle suggests if you are considering Victory Junction, you participate in a Family Weekend prior to sending your child for their first solo camp experience.
“It was very hard for me to even think about Lilly going somewhere without me, and the first time she went I was very anxious,” says Michelle. “But I had to remember how attending camp could benefit her, as it did my healthy, neuro-typical child. Once Lilly was there and I had calmed down, I realized my husband and I needed this time together with both children at camp, and over those few days, for the first time in nine years, I actually recognized who I was again. Both Lilly and I felt renewed when she came back!”
Visit victoryjunction.org for more information on camp opportunities and the Victory Junction mission. The beautiful campsite is located at 4500 Adam’s Way in Randleman, NC, 336-498-9055.