By Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare Solutions, Liaison Healthcare Informatics
Two weeks ago I spent my 17th year sleeping in a cabin on a wooden bed for a whole week. While it doesn’t sound like your dream vacation, Camp Sunshine is the one place that allows me to (almost) shut down from work and be in an (almost) stress-free environment. Camp Sunshine provides programs for kids with cancer; their premier event of the year is a summer camp where kids battling cancer can enjoy summer camp “just like normal” children do.
This year there were over 220 teenagers between 13 and 18 years old during my week and I was one of two counselors supporting 8 campers aged 13 to 15 years old. The second week of camp, which was held last week, was for children between 7 and 12 years old. We had five of them in our cabin last year and the other three were new to us, but had been to Camp Sunshine before. About half were on medications, including active treatment, while others had already beaten cancer but had mental or physical impairments as a result of it. It’s the one week at camp which allows them to gain confidence in their abilities to either continue in their fight or to tackles in the real world during the other 51 weeks each year.
And the same goes for me – while at camp, I’m busy with the kids from 7am to sometimes after midnight. And it rejuvenates me for the rest of the year as well. So while I’d rather be at Camp Sunshine 52 weeks per year, the one week is my way of giving back to the community. Some of the fun activities this year included a visit from Chef Chris Hall from Local 3 in Atlanta and the Georgia Bulldogs from Athens, a balloon release at flag raising to commemorate past campers, giving golf cart “limo rides” to campers on the way to their “prom” dance, yoga and zumba classes, visiting the farm where edible food is grown – including cows and chickens, kissing a fish for good luck after catching it.
Not everyone can spare a week for community service, but I would urge you go take a little time and give back to your community too.