BENEFITING: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
EVENT DATE: Mar 24, 2015
My first hour as a counselor at Camp Boggy Creek was spent with a group of boys suffering from sickle cell anemia. We played Uno and chatted, somehow landing on the subject of power rangers as one boy excitedly remarked, “I like the red one, and my little brother's is the white one.” His glossy yellow eyes remaining fixed upon the game, he casually drew a card and continued, “I still got the red action figure at home, but I put the white one in my little brother's casket with him.”
By age 10 he had survived a stroke and outlived his mother and only sibling; his hemiparetic gait was a constant reminder that he would soon inherit their fate. The near constancy of his pain crises and dialysis sessions afforded him very few days in school, all of which were spent in a humiliating routine of being ostracized and called “sickle boy”. There was simply no hiding his gaunt frame and swollen joints from the cruelty of his peers. I had never felt more privileged to be alive than when I was able to make him laugh or smile.
My chest burned each time I found that he had chosen to lay in his urine rather than wake me to ask for help. As I learned about this young man’s life, it became impossible to stop thinking about the abhorrent disease that had shaped it and its pervasive effects. My staunch refusal to look the other way rapidly progressed to a soulful determination to make a difference in these childrens lives.
Camp provides a medically sound environment for chronically ill children to engage in activities such as fishing and archery with other children who share their illness. Each week, the camps host sessions for campers who share a particular disease. Prior to each camper’s arrival, their counselors are briefed on their medical histories including, for example, their sickle pain or seizure patterns, their diet and medication schedules, and a letter from a parent or guardian about their daily routines and how they are cared for at home. Not only do we wish campers a safe week full of laughter and unforgettable memories, but also to remind their families that they are not alone.
For many children, camp is the only opportunity they will ever have to ride a horse, catch a fish, perform on a stage in costume, attend a dance, or even spend a night away from home. We lift them up from behind their walkers and place them on horses; we roll their wheelchairs straight into the specially designed pool. We have had graduation ceremonies for children who will never otherwise graduate, and I have heard one particular child thank God for giving her epilepsy because "it meant she got to go to Camp Boggy Creek".
Why get involved? Why help? Why donate?
Because these camps are 100% non-profit organizations which are funded by charities such as Hole in the Wall and operate at no cost to the children's families. Without our help, this is simply not possible.
Together we can make a difference in the lives of chronically ill children. Leave the running to me, and let's send some kids to camp!!!!!