Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Community Service - Camp Boggy Creek

Camp Boggy Creek, Florida’s Hole in the Wall Camp, was started by Paul Newman and is a place where children with chronic or life threatening illnesses can safely enjoy the activities of a “traditional” camp. The mission of Camp Boggy Creek is to create camping experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound. They offer week long summer sessions as well as family weekends during the fall and spring. Each session or weekend brings children together with the same illness so they realize that they are not alone.

During family weekends you can be assigned as either a family pal or an activity pal. Activity pals are stationed at certain activity sites (for example, archery or boating and fishing) and are there to help explain the activity and ensure that everyone remains safe. A family pal is assigned to a family and goes everywhere that the family wishes to go. They are responsible for ensuring everyone is having a good time and getting involved, as well as allowing the parents a chance to relax and not worry about their children. During family weekends the child with the illness is able to bring their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, ect. to camp with them.

I volunteered for the Rheumatic family weekend held September 26-28, 2008 and was assigned as a family pal. My family was Macayla, an adorable 11-year-old girl with Rheumatic disease who was the best hula-hooper I’ve ever seen; her mom, Christy; her best friend, Megan, a 12-year-old girl who is great at gymnastics; and Megan’s mom, Heather. My girls loved archery so we spent a lot of time there but we also took a paddle boat out on the lake, made race cars in woodshop, played miniature golf, and went to a pool party for all of the campers. It was nice because their moms were able to spend some time together and relax while I got to run around and play with the kids. On Saturday night we had a dance with a superheroes theme. Macayla and Megan loved to dance and I got to teach them the Cupid’s Shuffle and the Electric Slide. On the last day the kids had a talent show. My girls were a little shy so they didn’t participate but we enjoyed watching the other campers display their talents. As my fellow classmate, Eric Little, said, “It was a really fun experience and an opportunity to be a kid again. The motto is ‘Play with Kids’ and the camp really embodies that”.

Throughout camp three “medallions” were passed around to anyone who displayed acts of kindness. Macayla and Megan were given a medallion for being a hopper and getting the breakfast for the families at our table. They gave me the medallion almost immediately after getting it for being their family pal. It was a very special moment for me. In addition they wrote very sweet letters to their moms and me which were read to all of the families after the talent show. Their kindness, generosity and selflessness are inspirational. Macayla and Megan, along with all of the other campers and their families, truly are superheroes for their courage, hope, and positive attitudes.

- Jessica, Class of 2009

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