posted August 11, 2012

Life Skills and Friendships in Abundance

Hope College student-athletes recently volunteered their time at Special Days Camp, a two-week summer program that provides a camp experience for children who currently have or have had cancer or leukemia and their siblings.

The first week of camp is always dedicated to siblings; all of the campers during this week have a brother or sister that has been diagnosed with cancer.  The following week houses kids who are cancer patients. 

During both weeks of camp, kids participate in normal childhood camp activities including horseback riding, arts and crafts, swimming, boating and campfires.  They learn life skills and develop friendships with other kids who are going through the same experiences. 

Senior track and field athlete Amanda Thomas has spent many summers with Special Days, first as a camper and then as a counselor.  At the young age of two, Amanda began a personal battle with cancer which turned her family’s world upside down.  Special Days Camp became an outlet not only for Amanda, but also her siblings.  It was time to get away from the sadness and struggle that accompanied her diagnosis and to have a “normal” camp experience.  

Amanda wanted to share her camp experience with Hope student-athletes and organized a group of athletes to volunteer during both weeks of camp.  Athletes served at the annual carnival where they helped with games, played beach volleyball and ultimate frisbee, and participated in arts and crafts time.  They even were invited to participate in the pudding eating contest!   After the carnival, Hope student-athletes had the opportunity to stay and eat dinner with the campers where they were welcomed into all of the camp traditions.  

Student-athletes had a great time interacting with the kids and were greatly impacted by their experiences throughout the day.  Hope athletes are appreciative of the opportunity they had to serve alongside Special Days Camp as what they do for those affected by childhood cancer is truly remarkable.