Tripp Lake Camp Seniors @ Camp Sunshine
July 15, 2012 by Leslie Levy
Every summer, Senior campers at Tripp Lake Camp, in Poland, Maine volunteer their time and effort to Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine, in Casco, Maine, is an organization that provides a loving and happy atmosphere to children and their families suffering from cancer and other terminal diseases. Two TLC Senior campers took time to reflect on what it meant to lend a helping hand and what affect it had on them personally. We would like to share these stories with you.
Jamie W., camper, Senior II writes:
Living in this sacred bubble we call Tripp Lake Camp, sometimes we take for granted how lucky we are to be here. Recently, myself and ten other 1AB’ers (campers) volunteered to visit Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine provides one fun-filled, stress free week for families affected by cancer. I was assigned to play with 3-5 year olds. We played board games, drew pictures, played outside in order to ensure each child was comfortable and happy. Reflecting on my visit, I am now fully aware of how fortunate I am. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how such a young, innocent child could have gone through such an emotionally hard experience. Being in 1AB (a senior bunk at Tripp Lake Camp), we are often seen as role models. However, the kids at Camp Sunshine are my role models, as I strive to be as happy, loving, and able to live in the moment.
Emily G., camper, Senior II writes:
I have two legs, two arms, and all of my fingers and toes. Aside from an occasional broken finger or common cold, I am a healthy 15-year-old girl. It is not often that I imagine my life any differently. For example, having to deal with a life changing illness like cancer. I have recently learned that here at Tripp Lake Camp, we often take our lives, health, and happiness for granted.
On July 5th, ten Senior II’s (campers) traveled half an hour to Camp Sunshine. When you pull into the driveway, you are greeted by a beautiful, bright campus filled with a ropes course, open waterfront, art rooms, playgrounds, and other activities that Tripp Lake Camp offers as well. By the looks of it, you wouldn’t know that the campers and their families are fighting cancer, leukemia, and other serious diseases. Volunteer staff members, doctors, and full-time counselors work with the visiting families to give them an escape for a week from the battle they are fighting. In most cases, I was working with a child in the 6- to 8-year-old group, who were battling cancer. Their siblings were there enjoying the games/activities we played with the campers, while the parents had time to relax.
July 5th was probably the most moving reality-check of my life. There were many times I was fighting back tears of happiness because these beautiful, young kids get a chance to get away from the hospitals, chemo, and stress of home. But there were also tears of sadness. I have such a wonderful, worry-free life. I stress about school, tests and drama. These children at Camp Sunshine are fighting for their lives every single day. One boy I met was a 6-year-old named Aaron. His counselor had told me that, because of Camp Sunshine, he had willingly taken off his hat, which he hadn’t done since starting chemotherapy. He had been incredibly self-conscious since losing his hair during the treatment and refused to take his hat off for long periods of time. The day before we volunteered, Aaron threw off his hat while playing carelessly in the field. It was an experience that brought his parents to tears.
I had heard so many more stories like Aaron during the day from parents, kids and counselors. Each story made me more grateful for my life and opportunities. I felt amazing at the end of the day. So happy I had a chance to brightened 34 children’s day. Camp Sunshine is a heaven just like Tripp Lake Camp. It is my dream that more young girls and boys can share the experience that I have been blessed to have had.