Saturday, November 30, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
When we arrived at Camp the first time, one of the first things I noticed was the walkways with the bricks and the names. Going back well into the early 1990’s¸they had the names of various camps, and names of campers. We were attending Camp NOW (Neuro-Oncology Weekend) 2010, a family weekend camp. Our daughter, Allison, had been diagnosed in March of that year with a terminal brain tumor. She had initially not wanted to go to camp – she had first been invited to a week long camp that she would attend by herself. She determinedly declined that invitation, but when the chance for a family camp came around, we were able to convince her to give camp a try. Allison fell in love with camp, despite the lack of televisions and electronics. And I think in a way, camp fell in love with her as well. That September, we discovered the magic of Camp John Marc, and just as Allison would become a permanent part of Camp when her brick was placed in the Live Oak Path, Camp would carve out a special place in our hearts as well.
Allison could not wait to return to camp the next summer, and was marking the days off the calendar as the days got warmer. Finally July arrived we packed both her and her brother and drove them to Camp Sanguinity. Allison was in hospice care, and more sick than any of us wanted to admit. But she would not have missed camp for anything. Thanks to the amazing staff and volunteers, Allison “lived” more in that week at Camp than she had in months. Somehow, all of the day to day needs that Allison had became transparent at camp – despite being in a wheelchair, needing oxygen at times, and more medications that I could count on my fingers and toes – the Camp staff and volunteers somehow made all of that seem to disappear so that Allison could be a camper. The story of Allison and the Zip Line from that year has now become a “camp story” -- after her first time to ride the zip line ( and an incredible effort by everyone to make it happen for her ) her response when asked how it she liked it was “ It was all right”. She was the kind of kid that didn’t want to be the center of attention, and was pretty low key when in a large group. When we picked her up thatFriday, however, she was radiating with happiness, and was bubbling with excitement. For five days she had been able to just be a kid, and do kid things at camp. It is one of those moments in time that I cherish, just because my beautiful girl was happy.
Allison passed away on September 11, 2011. While her passing has created an indescribable sadness, some of our happiest memories of her we created at Camp John Marc. We got to share another precious moment in 2012 while at Camp Morningstar, a camp for bereaved families. That weekend also happened to be the annual Camp Work Day, so there were many staff and volunteers there doing various tasks around camp. One of the activities that day was placing all of the bricks on the Live Oak Path for the previous year. We were offered the incredible gift of being able to place Allison and Travis’ Camp Sanguinity bricks. When it was time, we had Travis place his sister’s and his bricks in the path.
Whenever we visit camp now, the first thing I do is go and find our bricks, Allison and Travis’ first, then our family bricks. I love to wonder along the path and see all of the names of the campers that came before us, and now to see the names that follow ours. Allison’s brick is not a memorial, but a testimony to part of her that she left at camp, just as all the amazing kids at camp do. I think it is so appropriate that the path is called the Live Oak Path, because that is exactly what our children do at camp – they live.