The third camp of my summer was Camp Sunrise. This was a pediatric oncology camp for kids who had survived cancer and also those who were currently fighting cancer. Check out more about the camp here. The kids at this camp, like the kids I met at all the other camps, were so inspiring. They had fought cancer or were fighting cancer, yet you wouldn’t have known it. Their joy and strength shone through in everything they did!
In the mornings at Camp Sunrise, there was an optional yoga class. I watched it one morning and I was surprised by the younger kids behavior in yoga. Not only were they polite, but they followed directions so well. As someone who teaches martial arts to 6-12 years old, I constantly struggle with kids goofing around and not following directions. There are many benefits associated with yoga (Check out what Parents Magazine has to say about kids and yoga) but I think that the atmosphere of a yoga class plays a huge role in helping the kids focus. The energy is calm and kids are given directions in a soft, calm voice. So instead of getting the kids super hyped up and then trying to calm them down long enough to give instructions, yoga starts calm and uses strengthening moves and soft tones to guide the children through a workout.
As with other medical camps, Camp Sunrise provided normalization for the campers. At Camp Sunrise, they can provide chemo on sight. This means that they can not only host campers who have survived cancer, but also those who are currently fighting. I knew of a couple campers who would stay with their group for the morning, go to the camp doctor for a couple hours for chemo and then rejoin the group and it was as though nothing had happened. They never stopped being a kid at camp.
I was surprised to see how the campers (and staff who had survived cancer) talked about their experiences with ease. Because the majority of campers and staff were survivors of cancer, they all had a lot in common. They had gone through the same emotions, the same treatments and all come out stronger and more beautiful. It was obvious that this camp had a significant impact on the campers because most of the counselors were former campers. Camp had such a big impact on their life, they came back to help change other children’s lives.
To learn more, check out this ABC clip about Camp Sunrise. I’m the one with the fairy wing and UK hat!