It’s Camp Kemo week! I had the honor of serving as a counselor at Camp Kemo, a week-long summer camp for children ages 5-18 that either have or have had cancer, for 10 years from 2001-2011.
It’s held at the Camp Kinard Lutheran Retreat Center in Batesburg-Leesville, SC and is a program of the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia, SC.
Being a part of the Camp Kemo family has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. The beauty and inspiration I found during my time as a counselor was seeing that while these children were in the fight of their lives, most of the time you would never know it. While at Camp, they were just kids being kids.
Not only did it positively affect me as an outsider (I’m fortunate to have never gone through cancer), the impact is even more apparent on the children. Many come back to be counselors themselves after they turn 18, and many campers stay in touch with each other for years, even after going away to college and starting their new lives after graduation.
The most touching testimonials of the power of Camp Kemo have come from some of the campers who have said they were glad they had cancer, because if they never got sick, they would never have met some of their best friends. To me, there is no more powerful witness to Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
I went for a run this morning around my new neighborhood in Tampa, and while going through the Al Lopez park, I came across the Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park. That I discovered this park during the week that Camp Kemo is happening is too much to be a coincidence.
I went back around lunch time to take some photos around the park. It is in honor of current and past campers, and in memory of those who have died, that I post these photos.
Whether you are dealing with sickness, or any other struggle, I hope you draw inspiration from these these people who have survived one of the toughest experiences anyone can go through. I was having a rough morning, and it certainly helped me put everything into a proper perspective.
If you would care to donate to Camp Kemo, or any of the other programs through the Children’s Hospital, you can do so online through their donation page. It’s a wonderful organization that has been around for over 25 years, and a donation of any size will be a seed that will bear much fruit.