Camp Family

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Camp Family

One of camp’s most bittersweet moments is the time when we have to say goodbye to a camper who’s passed out of eligability. In order to make room for new campers facing the challenges and hardship of a new diagnosis we must turn away old friends who’ve finished their treatment and gone three years without relapse or recurrance. We hate to see them leave but are glad to know that they can go. Eligable to attend or not, however, they will aways be part of our camp family.

One of camp’s most bittersweet moments is the time when we have to say goodbye to a camper who’s passed out of eligability. In order to make room for new campers facing the challenges and hardship of a new diagnosis we must turn away old friends who’ve finished their treatment and gone three years without relapse or recurrance. We hate to see them leave but are glad to know that they can go. Eligable to attend or not, however, they will aways be part of our camp family.

 

The bond forged through the shared hardship and emotional rollercoaster that characterizes the battle against childhood cancer is an incredibly strong one and the vast diversity of people touched by the disease creates a huge, diffuse, and dedicated network of caregivers, professionals, and compatriots scattered across the tri-state area (and beyond). When one of our BRASS campers – a student at Virginia Tech – was injured in a car accident, my wife, a professor at the same institution, was ready to step forward as the family’s laison with the University. When the great recession made employment difficult to find in the best of cirsumstances another volunteer — a hiring manager — ran an inpromptu resume clinic at a teen and YAC weekend. Why? Because that’s what you do for family.

 

There is a saying among the families and staff at Special Love events: “anything for camp.” I don’t know where it originated or who started it but it touches everything we do. A camper needs a ride 200 miles to attend an event? We’ll find someone who can drive him. A caregiver needs a place to crash on the road between hospital visits? Someone has a couch. A seven year old wants his thirty year old counselor to dress up in drag, sing Lady Gaga’s new hit single, and take a whipcream pie to the face? We can swing that, not because our staff has a penchant for crossdressing, avante-garde pop music, or dairy products, but because that’s just what you do for family — camp family.

 

That is why the first day of a camp event feels so very much like a family reunion; to a great extent it is. We catch up on news, tell stories about years gone by, marvel at baby pictures, share tragedy and triumph, and then settle down to the job — though none can really call it work — of welcoming new faces into the fold. New campers and their folks find it ovewhelming at first, but they’ll be comfortable — family — in no time.

2012-10-26T14:10:39+00:00 Family Weekends, Featured|0 Comments

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