Summer Camp Stories & Experiences
Incredible Experiences & Fun, Year After Year
This was my son’s fourth year having the wonderful opportunity to attend Camp. Since he thinks about it all year, and talks about all the fun he had & the friends he made, my husband & I always wonder if he will be let down when he actually goes to camp because of the high expectations from the previous year…That should never be a concern because each year he comes home with story after story of the incredible experiences & fun he had at camp! We are amazed that your camp is able to top itself year-after-year!
— Camper mom Karin
Nothing Short of a Miracle
In December of last year, Brendan’s mom signed him up for The Hole in the Wall Gang for the following June. At the time, we were not sure Brendan would live long enough to enjoy the camp. Indeed, his health began to deteriorate quickly in the spring and as June approached, his parents made the difficult decision to send Brendan to the camp despite his health and his reluctance to leave their side. And then an amazing thing happened. Your highly trained and qualified camp staff laid out the welcome mat and turned that week into nothing short of a miracle. Not only did Brendan enjoy the camp, it allowed Brendan to enjoy what would be the last full week of his life. In the pictures and video from that camp you can see Brendan smiling, a feat made nearly impossible due to his tumor. In addition, you could just see the loving patience and desire the camp staff had in making that week one of the best in his short life. Your staff allowed him to spend much of his time down on the dock where he became known as the Bait King as he helped others bait their hooks and told everyone everything they ever wanted to know about fish.
In the end, Brendan passed away peacefully in his sleep just a few days after returning from camp. During the public celebration of his life the following week, much of your camp staff had driven to Mass to be there and speak about the effect Brendan had on them. We were so thankful for them and yet they were so thankful they were given the opportunity to spend that time with Brendan.
— Camper uncle Ross
Six Glorious Days
This letter is for each and every one of you who made Nik’s summer camp experience one he will always remember and cherish. You all know Nik’s medical history, and he probably told you that he spent over 100 days in isolation, his moniker. He has experienced significant loss in his young life, and yet he continues to thrive on meeting new kids and making friends. Yes, he did make many friends and had stories to tell about each one, but his most important relationships were the ones he forged with those of you who watched over his cabin, shared his diner table and made sure that each and every moment at camp was magical.
What is so special about all of you who nurture, encourage, support and comfort these children is that you “get it.” You understand that they are not like most kids their age. The beauty of camp is that for six glorious days they are like all the other kids around them. No one has to mention it. There is no need to dwell on it. They all know it. It is what makes them equal and creates an almost instantaneous bond. They are or have been sick. Really sick and no one can begin to understand what that is like for a young boy or girl, but we can help them to cherish the life they have been blessed with and that is truly the gift that you share with them every day they are with you.
Not only do you do that for them, but you do it for us, the parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents who have seen the pain and sorrow the kids have suffered and can’t put into words what it feels like to see their glowing faces as they walk into camp, anticipating what is to come. There were times for me, and I am sure other parents, when all I wanted was to see that smile on Nik’s face and worried that perhaps I never would but watching him set up “house” in his cabin and hug you all tight as he says goodbye literally brought tears to my eyes. It is one of the only times that I leave Nik in someone else’s care and know without a doubt that he will be fine. Absolutely fine. There is nothing that you all can’t handle.
— Camper parent Leslie
A Touch of Heaven
As many of you know, this has been one of the most medically challenging years for Liam. He has been very sick, and his health has been deteriorating. This year, he has been to more than 85 doctors appointments, in and out of the hospital and has endured many vary painful tests to help evaluate why he has been deteriorating. He has only attended 25 out of 180 days of school, which has been quite emotionally difficult for him because he absolutely loves school.
He has spent far too many days that he has not been able to get out of bed because he was too weak or in pain, severe headache, problems walking, dizziness, nausea, debilitating fatigue and unable to eat/drink sufficiently. I am honored to be called Liam’s mom. However, as a parent, it has been horrendous to witness my son suffer so much, it rips my heart out and makes me feel so helpless!!! It just crushes me…
Liam just never EVER gives up…And let me tell you why…Let me make myself extremely clear…It is because of each and every one of YOU in our CAMP FAMILY who have joined together to bring Liam and every child, parent and sibling the magic of camp!!! Camp truly is a touch of heaven that gives my son the BEST medication that lasts throughout the year and no doubt will last throughout his LIFETIME!!! Liam talks about camp EVERY single day and camp motivates him to put his feet on the ground everyday to fight his battle. Camp is the heart and soul of who Liam is today and who he will become and what he will do to make our world a better place for everyone!
— Camper mom MaryEllen
At one point during Jake’s treatment, Jake had been going to clinic numerous times a week for transfusions. On the morning he was to leave for camp, we were at clinic for a platelet transfusion in hopes he would be able to have limited restrictions while at camp. During the transfusion, Jake turned to me and said, “I don’t want to do treatment anymore, it never ends.” We talked about him going to camp that day and enjoying the week and we would figure it out when he was back home. A week later, I arrive at camp. There he is in the dining hall with a smile of sheer joy on his face – dancing and singing. On the hour ride home, he still wasn’t able to finish telling us all his stories. When we’re home, he came to me and said, “You pick any treatment that you think is right for me, I’ll do it, I’m ready.” Jake continued to bravely fight. That is the power and magic of camp. Camp has provided, not only Jake but our entire family the gift of hope, spirit and strength…I often tell people that camp is more magical than Disney! Our daughter, Hannah, (who was a sibling camper) is now a counselor at camp this summer. The experience she is gaining is amazing. Her goal is to give back and allow others the unbelievable experience she received. Through camp, we are also seeing her heal as she ventures through the grieving process.
— Camper parents Kristen and Jim
Kids Like Me
On the bus ride home, my daughter looked at me and said, "Mommy, all these kids have sickle cell like me!" I had told her many times about other kids that had sickle cell, but she didn't believe me until Camp. She came home and talked about all her new friends, the fun she had and how many of them worry about the sames tings she did.
— Camper Mom
My son has had a history of being bullied in school, sports and in the neighborhood. This camp experience was an amazing experience for him. He was happy the whole time. He felt welcome by his peers for the first time. He talks about the "no put down" rule all the time.
— Camper Mom