I’ve been thinking hard on how best to CampOut for Cancer. I’ve considered camping out in a yurt, going backpacking up north, having a giant bonfire or just camping in the backyard. But something wasn’t working for me, wasn’t connecting and feeling right. I then started to reflect on why I’ve been having so much trouble coming up with a place to celebrate Camp Trillium for the day. I couldn’t find a place that would help me feel like I am at Camp Trillium. Camp Trillium isn’t just a place for me and my family. Camp Trillium isn’t just a place for kids and families with cancer to go, get away and enjoy the outdoors. Yes, Camp Trillium is a beautiful place, but that isn’t what calls to me. Camp Trillium calls to my heart. It speaks my language of love—one full of joy, laughter and fun. It is home.
It’s the people who fill the place that makes Camp Trillium so special. While my daughter, Lily, was in the thick of cancer treatment at six years old, we went to family camp. We travelled over three hours, had to get on a boat and then get off on an island full of strange, silly and loud creatures. It was overwhelming as these people grabbed our luggage, called us their family for a week and rushed us across this big open field to our cabin. I wasn’t sure about this place but something magical happened during our first stay. These special, strange, silly and loud creatures became our family, made my sick child laugh and shined light (so much light) into our dark and scary cancer tunnel.
Camp Trillium is a place for families to connect to each other, find some healing and share their strategies for coping with cancer. Yet, it is so much more. I must admit that the first parent meeting at camp was so sad. It was sad listening to all the parents introduce themselves and share their child’s cancer story. I couldn’t help but think of the parents who spoke of losing their son to cancer, who were on their child’s second/third round of treatment or who had two boys sick at the same time. How would I relate and connect to these parents? Something magical happened again while at camp. The parents shared stories of survival, were silly playing games while our kids were tucked in for the night and we connected. These moms and dads weren’t any different than us, they knew us because they were us. They had the same story, fears and never said “I can’t imagine.” They understood that cancer was the worst, and at times, the best thing that happened to their family. Time together was precious—taking the time to love, hug, be playful, whisper under the covers and sing by the campfire. All these special, beautiful moments of connection, and love, happened at Camp Trillium because everyone understood each other. Thank you, Camp Trillium, for bringing us to these people to help us heal and find some peace.
Families are more resilient and strong when they feel connected. Those feelings, those moments of connection to other people is what I want to create during my CampOut for Cancer experience. Those moments of laughing through my tears, talking over coffee/tea, breathing a little easier and times of reflection is what I want CampOut for Cancer to be for me – and for others. So, I reached out to a mom from camp, we bonded over coffee/tea and grandiose ideas, and are planning a day retreat for parents of children with cancer. The goal is to focus on mindful and positive experiences of healing at a restorative CampOut for Cancer retreat on October 14th.
Camp Trillium, to me—to so many of us—isn’t just a place to visit. Camp Trillium is a place full of beautiful, wonderful people—kids, parents, special friends—who have stories of love to share. I hope that our CampOut for Cancer retreat embodies the same camp heart and spirit. Camp Trillium is a celebration of the deeper pleasures of home—the bonds that hold people together in sickness and health, joy and sorrow, and love, peace and hope. That is what Camp Trillium, and the CampOut for Cancer retreat, means to me.