A Medical Volunteer’s Personal Snapshots of Camp Inspiration
Advocacy A volunteer shares the personal highlights from a special project supporting children with debilitating and terminal health conditions, as well as their parents.
The morning after the first Camp Inspiration at the Double H Ranch began, a mom said to me, “Last night was the first time in seven years that I could go to sleep without having to worry about ventilator alarms.”
This brief statement clearly sums up the sacrifices families make for children dependent on this technology. Over time, the word “inspiration” has meant to “breathe in,” “come from God” and “stimulated to be creative.” Camp Inspiration is a perfect name.
In the air
The giant swing, part of the Double H ropes course, is hung from tall trees. While swinging from it in a large arc, a teenage camper, paralyzed from the neck down, said: “The feeling of the breeze on my face, with the sound of my ventilator, is so relaxing.” Coming down from the swing, she said, “It was like touching heaven.
The following year, she went down the zip line. While at the top, forty feet off the ground, she exclaimed, “Hey, I can see the tops of everyone’s heads.” It dawned on us then that she spent her life in a wheelchair and always had to look up at others. She would have enjoyed that view all day.
Brand new experiences
Another evening, a father was sitting in an Adirondack chair, gazing up at the stars. I asked if he went fishing on family vacations. He told me, “When I come here, this is my vacation. I never have a chance to fish or even just sit down like this and look up at the sky. My kids love this place. My wife and I can relax.”
Another touching moment involved a little boy who could not speak. The ropes course staff placed the child in the giant swing and encouraged his dad to push him. There was the usual loud cheer from the staff, but then total silence. This dad had a look on his face of pure tranquility and happiness. A nurse whispered, “This is probably the first time he has pushed his son in a swing.” This man finally had the chance to experience the joy in one simple act that is part of being a dad.
Counselors, management and staff — and the medical volunteers — are completely dedicated to giving these children and families a week like no other. By placing the emphasis on what the children can do, and always questioning how we can “make this happen,” this outstanding group of people makes Camp Inspiration anything but a hospital in the woods. It may be a labor-intensive week for all involved, but we do it because we love it, because it is good and because it is inspiring.
We want our campers to always have their faces warmed by the sun and their hair swept by the wind. We want them to gaze down at the tops of our heads and to touch heaven.