- Dear Campers, Families, and Friends,
We are two days away from camp and your team is ready to go! We are so very proud to have grown over the last eight years and to have provided camp for more than 400 children in Ontario living with organ failure and organ transplants. Emily, Christina and I, and all our nurses, doctors and volunteers are committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to experience camp. Each year the feelings of awe and excitement have only grown and it is hard not to be captivated by the magic of camp as we watch your children blossom and celebrate the gift of life. It has been an incredible journey for us. I remember vividly 8 years ago when we started, the very first morning of the first day of camp as I sat alone on the docks with a view of the lake and the morning stillness all around. It was 6 am, the sun was rising and there was a deep calm as the campers and staff were still asleep. I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed with awe, pride and excitement. We did it! We were here!! The campers were here!!! Camp was on!!!!!!! After a year of planning, organizing and imagining what camp could and would be with our incredible team- it was now here and it was the most magnificent feeling- that has grown each year.
Camp Kivita is truly a celebration of the gift of life. Each year we pontificate but the simple truth is that there is no more compelling case for how organ transplantation works than seeing a children of all ages – recipients of hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs and bowels being able to run, dance, cheer, swim, kayak, compete, laugh and challenge themselves. It all starts with the bus ride up where we gather, nervous with anticipation and excitement. Many of our campers have never been away from home, while others are returning to see friends they have made at past sessions. Throughout the week, we are amazed hearing our campers relaying their magnificent transplant stories…… Sharing and comparing scars, discussing their medications, and reflecting on their health care journeys. Our campers are amongst friends and people who truly understand their experiences. Children who are still waiting for their transplants and living with advanced organ failure get encouragement from their new friends…. Our campers teach us about joy and living.
Camp Kivita is a team and family. It is a gift to each of us who volunteer to help organize and run camp to have the chance to share these experiences with your children. Many of our team have known your children over the years as nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, camp volunteers and in other roles in health care, but we each cherish the opportunity to share camp with your kids. It allows us to spend quality time, have quiet reflective moments, one on one conversations, walks through nature, share campfire stories, and just sit on the dock and be with our campers. Campers tell us how much they appreciate the break from the pressures of city life, the chance to meet new friends with similar experiences, and the ability to just have a week of fun. We all enjoy the break from screens, noise, and routine, and relish the magnificent beauty of the camp itself…This year, several of our former campers have graduated and we are thrilled to watch them grow and move on; we also welcome many new campers who will be joining us. Two campers, Kareem and Michael will be returning as volunteer staff and we could not be prouder. We also cherish the memory of Ryan, Sydney, Ben and Stephanie who each will forever remain in our hearts and camp kivita family and we are grateful for the wonderful camp memories we shared.
Camp is about making memories that will last a lifetime. It has been more than twenty years since I was a camper but to this day I still become overwhelmed with nostalgia and joy at the spectacular memories of my camp friends, counsellors, and journeys and can be brought to happy tears when an old camp song comes on the radio. Over the course of the week we will swim in the cool lake, canoe, sail, run and climb, dance, compete, push limits, be physically active with sports but also to be creative and original. Our campers will overcome obstacles and challenges, make new friends, connect with nature, overcome fears, learn how to coexist in a cabin with many different children and have to adapt. Campers will cheer as loud as they can and sing around campfires; camp requires both leadership and trusting to follow the lead of others. They will learn new skills, improve on old skills, try new things, explore new ideas and perspectives, be busy but also find time for solitude and reflection. They may feel frustrated or nervous at times, but they will overcome and they will be proud. They will have time to just relax and reflect, they will have time to push their boundaries, be encouraged to try things they have never tried before, they will smile and cheer one another on. These are skills and experiences they will carry for life and we are thrilled to share this magic with your children.
Our incredible volunteer team is here to safely encourage, guide, inspire, learn from, support and enjoy this week with your campers. We are so grateful to be entrusted with your children and to share the wonderful and magical camping journey with them!
Over the next week, we will be sharing pictures and videos from camp, stories, and anecdotes. We will be highlighting our generous and amazing donors, introducing you to our team, and sharing camper health care stories. As you look through the pictures and share our journey, I hope you will see the gift of life shining through and please help us spread the word that organ donation is key and that organ transplantation truly transforms lives.
Yours in camping,
On behalf of Emily, Christina, and the Camp Leadership Team