The first time I visited Camp Joy was when I was six years old. The previous spring I had been diagnosed with leukemia and was attending camp with the HEM-ONC week. My doctors and nurses thought it would be a good way to get out of the hospital and spend time as a normal kid. I fell in love with camp right away and continued going every year since.
My first year at camp was the first time I had been away from home without my parents. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to bring a family member. My older cousin, Maria and I got to our cabin and got to meet our cabin mates. I loved my cabin and got to know the girls. We formed an instant bond and the girls became a second family to me. We all had something in common and no one treated me differently because of my cancer which was a relief. I`ve continued going to camp ever since my first summer and this year will be my 11th year as a camper. Each year it seems to get better and better. The girls in my cabin might as well be my family at this point. We have a bond that I`ll never be able to replicate with anyone else. Camp has made me the person I am today and it’s helped me accept my leukemia past.
Ever since my first summer at Camp Joy I`ve wanted to be a counselor. Last summer one of my best friends applied for the CIT program and after hearing about her amazing experience I decided to apply for the program. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the program and the week one session. I was so excited before the first week and didn’t know what to expect. I met the other CITs and formed instant connections with most of them.
The first week of the session I formed a lot of bonds with youngest group of girls as well as the boys. I had an instant connection with both and gained their trust right away. The girls were holding my hand and the boys were always asking for piggyback rides. The second week was even better. I gained their trust right away and the girls thought of me as a mom and sister at the same time. The love they showed instantly will stick with me forever. Those two weeks were truly the best of my life.