Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Camp Discovery= Amazing Learning Experience

I just had the privilege of volunteering at American Cancer Society’s Camp Discovery I spent a week with 100 volunteers (some who have had cancer and the rest who’ve been touched by cancer in some way) and 150 kids (ALL who have been touched by cancer).

Going into camp as a first time counselor I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that I was a green girl counselor and I would be in charge of watching over 10 and 11 year old girls for the week. I was honestly expecting most of them to be in varied states of health (e.g. extreme pain, hair loss, headaches, nausea, etc.—all the side effects of chemotherapy). But that is not at all what I was welcomed with. The great thing about Camp Discovery is that once you become a camper, you are a camper for life. So the Green Girls show up and they are all HEALTHY VIBRANT young ladies! Most of my girls had been off treatment for a while and were doing very well. It was very exciting to see that camp was there to give them an outlet to spend time with people who have experienced somewhat the same ordeal as they have. Don’t get me wrong, some of the other campers were in varied states of health, like just being released from a bone marrow transplant recovery, or a neutropenic state where they have low immune systems so they are extremely susceptible to infections. But those campers still go to camp and they have the time of their lives. They go fishing (and when the catch one they have to kiss it), they go dancing, they go horse back riding, shoot archery, they raid the boys cabins, and all the other normal camp things. It’s amazing how much energy the kids can generate from each other. Everyone, including volunteers and campers are so supportive throughout the whole camp!

One of the most touching features of camp is the remembrance ceremony they hold every year. The ceremony is a way for Camp Discovery participants to remember those who have lost their fight against cancer. Each camper who has passed away since last camp has a special candle dedicated to them with their picture and a special poem. Not only is it a time to remember past campers, it is also a time to remember anyone you have lost. I went to the ceremony, not to mourn the campers that had passed, but to mourn for Kira (that sounds selfish, but keep reading) and through my tears I could see all of the pain in the campers faces. It really hit me then, that not only do they have to deal with their own diagnosis and treatment, they have to deal with everyone else’s they meet in the hospital. I luckily (or not so luckily) have only been touched closely once by a cancer death, but I now know 150 other kids who have been touched a lot more by many more cancer deaths! Now EVERYDAY I will be working for those kids. When I mourn it won’t be just for Kira’s face I see, it will also be those camper’s faces!

Camp Discovery was a truly amazing experience. Jenny said Camp would be one of the best training tools for my job and she was right. Now everyday when I go to work I have the memory of all of those campers to think about—to keep me motivated to raise funds so we can help more and more families.


Heroes for Children said...

It's summer fun time
Out in the sunshine
We'll have the best time of the year
At Camp Discovery, we're one big family
Full of hope, full of love, full of cheer!

Just new you would be missing that Christi--but if you need the Ham Sandwich song, don't look to me!

Thank you for joining me on a great camp experience. I know you didn't have to go and I'm so grateful you did.

Tracey Robinson said...

Great wrap up Christi - I'm so glad you got the opportunity to go! (and it was great meeting you!)

Tracy said...

It sounds like the experience will stick with you for a lifetime AND will get you raising a LOT of fund for HFC!!

adam said...
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Simply Bananas said...

just found this site, enjoyed my stay