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October 15, 2004 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-10-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

`A Good Vibe'

Young campers feel normalcy and respect
amid cancer's tumult.

KERI GUTEN COHEN

Story Development Editor

"I watch them when they step off the
plane and see how they build bonds and
become a community in seven days. It's
an incredible experience to watch it hap-
pen."

Gold Creek, Montana
rom the moment they arrive in
Montana, campers at Camp
Mak-A-Dream begin to build a
Bonding And Much More
community.
A big step toward building community
Fifty at a time, these children and
comes each night during cabin chat,
young adults with various forms of can-
when the kids and counselors take time
cer spend one action-packed week living
to talk about anything and everything.
as "normal" kids.
"You can't connect with anyone more
They challenge themselves on a ropes
than here," says Lu, a second-year
course. They ride horses, swim, make
camper from Clarkston. "They know
typical camp arts and crafts, act silly and
wolf down above-average camp
chow.
Somehow, they forget about can-
cer's complications: blindness, a
missing limb, leg braces, fatigue or
missing hair. What they don't forget
about is each other.
"We all have something in com-
mon," says Cambrey, 17, of
Detroit, who has attended the
camp for four years and has
leukemia. "It's easier to open up,
and there's more understanding. I
feel the respect and that's a good
vibe.
"Camp has made me more
mature," she says. "I can't worry
about petty things. Life is too
short."
That philosophy permeates
Camp Mak-A-Dream.
"They have a deep appreciation
for life — like no one else," says
Lauren Fiechtner, 21, of Okemos, a
pre-med student at the University
of Michigan in Ann Arbor who
worked at camp this July. "It's the
greatest environment I've ever
Kate, 18, and Shannon, 16, are city kids who
worked in."
are testing the waters of the fishing pond in a
As president of U-M's Pre-Med
canoe.
Club, she had held a can drive,
bake sale and a three-on-three bas-
what you've gone through. I still e-mail
ketball tournament to raise funds for
friends from last summer."
Friends of Camp Mak-A-Dream,
For Shannon, 16, of Detroit, opening
Michigan Chapter. Being at camp as a
up was hard at first. He lives very near
volunteer made the effort real to her.
downtown and spoke of being too close
"The camp is incredible for the kids,"
to violence.
says Wendy Winger of Caledonia, a
"I can be different than I am at
nurse who works on the pediatric oncol-
home,"
he says. "At cabin chat, I can say
ogy unit at DeVos Hospital in Grand
anything,
and it stops there."
Rapids. She has volunteered since 1995
Campers follow up these heart-to-
and helps provide medical care "invisi-
bly" so it doesn't detract from the camp
VIBE on page 44
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