In this issue you’ll find all of our traditional holiday content—gift ideas, decorating inspiration, and tips for entertaining—but we know that for some of you, your plate already feels too full. (Who has room for garlands and gifts when you’ve got real struggles at home?) That’s why we begin with a Holiday Survival Guide, where we do the thinking and planning for you, because sure as sugarplums, the holidays will happen and everyone expects you to participate. We list free things to do, travel advice, events to keep your relatives busy, and ways to get into the spirit when you’re just not feeling it.
Giving—whether it’s time, money, or gifts—has a way of putting anyone in the right frame of mind, and I was very moved reading "Welcome to Camp Wamp," about San Diegan Stephen Wampler’s adventure camp for physically challenged kids. I met Stephen and his wife, Elizabeth, about a year ago and was instantly pulled in by their candor and easygoing nature. Stephen, who has cerebral palsy, rose to fame when he scaled El Capitan, as documented in the movie Wampler’s Ascent. His feat caught the attention of Jay Leno, Ellen, Vogue … but Elizabeth says it was San Diego Magazine that gave him his first big shout-out: In 2008, we named him one of "50 People To Watch," right next to the Chargers’ Norv Turner and renowned AI scientist Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Research.
The Wamplers’ ambition is to make having a disability mainstream and remove all the social awkwardness around it. I learned that 125,866 San Diegans live with a disability. Disturbingly, disabled people earn just 69 percent of what able-bodied people earn. (Talk about a pay gap!) These days the Coronado couple’s main focus is fundraising through the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation so kids can attend Camp Wamp. Stephen wants kids and teens to enjoy access to everything, especially the outdoors—everyone sleeps under the stars, wheelchair or no—and emphasizes self-reliance, optimism, and adventure. Writer Ian Anderson flew up to the High Sierras to report on their adventures—not just those of the campers, but of the local San Diegan students who served as one-on-one counselors. The learning and growth happened on both sides. I hope you feel transformed, too. Happy Holidays.