So Many Things to Love About Camp

Jul 22, 2019 | Camps, Volunteers

By Jessie Tangen, CRG Volunteer —

There are so many things I love about camp. I regularly volunteer as a counselor for younger girls at sibling camp and one of my favorite parts of the week is the interactions I see between campers. The unfortunate reality of volunteering with an oncology camp like Camp Rainbow Gold is that sometimes we do have to deal with loss. The upside is that Camp Rainbow Gold really is a family and a huge support system for everyone involved.

At a memorial last camp season, I stood back and observed the young campers from my cabin. There was a moment as memories were being shared that many of the campers realized one of their cabin-mates had recently lost her sister. Their behavior changed from (very age-appropriate) hyperactivity and distraction to showing support, kindness and respect to their fellow camper by participating and taking the memorial activity to heart.

I also watched throughout the week as a first-year camper, who arrived at camp with a very depressed and negative mood, brightened by the end of the week. As we went from activity to activity each day, she slowly realized she could be involved in the group and that her fellow campers wouldn’t leave her out, single her out, or put her down. I watched her confidence grow. By the end of the week she said to me, “My mom is going to be so happy I had a good time!”

I love being in the same cabin year after year since I have had the opportunity to watch the returning campers grow from mischievous little ones to mature leaders. They show the first-time campers how things work, I had one returning camper ask a first-time camper about their sibling’s cancer and treatment. They know at camp those conversations are normal, safe and comfortable. I think there is something very special about getting validation from a peer, rather than an adult.

Lastly, I absolutely LOVE watching the younger campers interact with the older campers. Last summer, my cabin paired with an older cabin of girls to “raid” the boys—essentially to prank them by leaving streamers, signs or other fun decorations around their bunks when they are out at an activity. As counselors, we sat back and let the older campers literally take the hands of the younger campers and “Show them how it’s done”. It is incredibly sweet to see how the younger campers admire the older campers. Camp Rainbow Gold really is a family.