I began volunteering with North Star Reach in 2008, while I was working at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital as a Child Life Specialist in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic. Being able to take a group of my patients who had cancer or sickle cell to other SeriousFun camps around the country for the first few years was an incredible honor. For so many of these kids, this was the first time not only attending camp, but simply spending one night away from their parent! Mostly due to their complex medical needs and various health related risks that most camps are just not set up to handle safely. Although there was excitement, there was also a lot of anxiety (a little from the campers, but more so from their parents!) Being able to help support these kiddos (and their parents who would call/text frequently asking for updates) as they spent a magical week with other kids just like them, who have been through similar medical journeys, was incredible. The experience was so impactful for me personally that I decided to leave a job at the hospital that I cherished to begin working full time at North Star Reach in 2014. And since that time, I continue to be amazed at how camp can change lives!
Imagine, as a child, constantly being singled out as different and not being able to do things that your peers are doing because of a medical condition. At camp, this is the NORM as every camper has a serious medical challenge! Through intentionally designed buildings and programs we can safely support campers who otherwise would not be able to attend camp. These campers gain a sense of autonomy and independence, while trying new things and not having to worry about their medical condition or treatment. And not to mention the normalcy experienced
while surrounded by other kids their age who have similar medical challenges, similar scars, medical devices, tubes, central lines and past surgeries. Other kids who are JUST LIKE THEM and can truly understand what they've been through. Oh, and did I mention that campers never have to pay to attend camp?! Camp is absolutely a magical place, but we NEED YOUR HELP to continue to do what we do!
Due to ripple effects of COVID19 we have not only suspended on-site programming this summer, but we have also had to cancel fundraising events. We could use your help, now more than ever, to continue to offer life changing experiences to children with serious health challenges and their families. We are adapting our program this summer to provide virtual experiences as well as hopefully sending a little camp love to every camper. Please consider donating to help support North Star Reach and the incredible campers we serve!
Love the Mooseness!
Jess and Kinsley