…says the legend of Princess Oochigeas…"A brave spirit makes all things possible."
I have had the extraordinary privilege in my life to spend substantial time with children who live this everyday.
CAMP OOCHIGEAS, is a camp just outside of the town of Rosseau, in Muskoka, Ontario that is for children who have cancer. I would defy anyone driving up to the site to be able to find anything that signal that this camp differs than another in anyway.
But my does it ever. There are the medical facilities and staff. The nurses and doctors from SICK KIDS that must be on site for a session to run. The Medshed with blood work stations and chemo beds. The direct emergency lines to Parry Sound and Orillia hospitals.
There are the counsellors, whose average age is 24-25. Over 200 of them VOLUNTEER for one-two weeks each in order to have "nothing but fun" with the campers. Many counsellors arrive, excited by what they can do for the kids, but if their experiences are anything like mine were, they leave, overwhelmed by how much knowing these kids have done for them.
For 7 summers, I had the BEST TIME OF MY LIFE as a counsellor and swim instructor at Camp Oochigeas. I met the most outstanding adults I have ever had the privilege of knowing and am proud that many of them are still my closest friends. I met the bravest kids I have ever known and I saw at least one miracle a day. A camper who arrived in a wheelchair and walked to the bus when it was time to go home. An amputee water skiing from a boom, a bald girl with the biggest, roundest Prednisone face possible boogieing on the dance floor to put Travolta to shame.
And Thursday night,at THE EVENING OF SUMMER DREAMS, I got to live a little bit of it all over again. The Camp needs to build a barn which will work as their rec/community centre and the fundraiser was dedicated to this purpose. I know a lot of people who have spent the last two years working on this and their labour paid off with resounding success.
People around me spent thousands and tens of thousands of dollars on auction items and got great deals. I bought Cupcake (who was volunteering at the event) a Nicole Miller prom dress with matching shoes at the silent auction. I tried to win Beer for a Year, but my wallet just isn’t up to most of the attendees. That’s good though, the camp needs their money, their support and their donations.
From me it gets enthusiasm, tons of time (when I had it pre:kid life and when I have it again as the kids get older) and recommendations. I literally glow with pride over the 4 grads from my school who will be volunteering at Ooch this summer and who have said their desire to go has come from my infectious enthusiasm.
I could start a blog just about Ooch, what it means, what it is, what it has done for kids with cancer, what it has done for healthy me…these few words are too little to express its enormity. I am so lucky to always have Camp Oochigeas in my heart and the spirit of Princess Oochigeas in my soul!