Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Jack's Camp

Last week, we went to the first family camp of the year.  We plan to attend three different weekends of camp this year, hosted by two camps for families dealing with brain tumors.  The first was Jack's Camp, hosted by a support group called We Can.  The camp site, Camp Arroyo, is run by the YMCA and The Taylor Family Foundation, and hosts camps for kids with special needs through the year.  The camp founder, Elaine Taylor, had a nephew named Jack with a brain tumor, so she decided to invite a group to use their camp in order to support the kids and families in the area.

The view from the dining hall patio
Past the pool, over the whole Livermore Valley

Scarlett exploring our cabin.
Watching the campfire
 The camp is beautiful. It is in Livermore, about 20 minutes from us.  It overlooks the hills, valleys and vineyards in the area.  There are wild turkeys and deer wandering through the camp, and there is plenty of space for kids to run around.  Campers stay in cabins with solar-powered radiant-heated floors, huge handicapped-accessible tile bathrooms and bunkbeds, and eat in the big dining hall where healthy food is prepared for us.

Meeting the chickens at the all-organic camp garden
Adventures for mommy and daddy, too!  We got to do climbing and a zipline during one of the parent sessions.

During the weekend, the camp staff and volunteers take the kids, both patients and siblings, to play while parents share their stories and share information, resources and support.  Meeting other parents (and their kids) is an invaluable part of these camps.  There are many issues we are dealing with for Scarlett that only others with similar issues can understand.  And, since Scarlett is the youngest in the group, we get a lot more insight into the issues that kids who have been through similar treatments are facing as they get older.  

It is emotionally draining, but also gives us a new energy to find new resources and solutions to the problems that we are all struggling with.  The children we see now, including Scarlett, are part of a trailblazing group; they are some of the first to survive these tumors, and there is no structure to support them yet.  The treatments our kids are going through, and especially what was done 10-15 years ago, has life-long effects; very few of the kids are able to lead independent adult lives. It is up to parents like those we meet at camp, whose kids are becoming some of the first adult survivors of childhood brain cancer, to lay the groundwork for what we hope will continue to be a supportive community for kids who have undergone such drastic treatments.

In a few weeks, we will go to a different camp, and then in September, we will get to visit Jack's Camp again.  We feel very grateful that these camps offer these weekends to us - some of our only chances to get away - for minimal cost to us.  We look forward to them all year, and are so glad that camp season has arrived!


child of God said...

How amazing there are camps like this out there available at a low cost. I hope you are rested a wee bit from your time away.

Praying for you Scarlett.

It's June! said...

Glad you had this time to recup and get some support!