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Four Amazing Days at Happiness is Camping

By Wade Iwata
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This past week, CBTF hosted 12 families for our first official family camp at Happiness is Camping in Hardwick, NJ.  The 4-day camp brought families from across the east coast together to share in fun filled camp activities and discussions focused on specific issues each family member faces. 

The camp, which is located in northwestern New Jersey provided the perfect surroundings for relaxation, activities, and bonding between families.  Following our first night, it was great to see families helping each other out, kids interacting with each other, and seeing the burden of explaining a brain tumor to others lifted off each participant’s shoulders. 

While at camp, families were able to participate in a variety of activities, which included a giant swing, where you are harnessed into a pulley system, pulled to the top of a 30-40 foot pole and you had to pull a tab to release yourself and swing.  Many of the kids and parents overcame fears and completed the giant swing.   Families were also able to climb a rock wall, practice archery, and thanks to Gary, Tess, and Nina Brewster, were able to fish in the lake at camp.   Alongside the activities, discussions about parenting issues, how to talk to children about illness and what is good and what is irritating about being a sibling were all discussed. Additionally we were able to play some all survivor games, which gave the kids with the brain tumors the opportunity to interact and play with other kids with a similar illness. 


As camp ended, families presented art projects they had done during their time at camp.  The art project consisted of three collages that depicted their lives before the diagnosis, their lives in the present, and their hope for their lives in the future.  It was heartwarming and emotional to see all the families had been through and all they hoped for in the future.  We then completed our closing of the camp by tying strings with specific meanings on to the wrists of our fellow campers.  While we did this we shared with the person how they helped us grow, laugh, or what we learned from them.  We also shared an orange string that indicated we would be there for families in the future.  It was a truly amazing to see the families sharing strings and sharing stories from our time at camp during this emotional closing activity.   

Overall, it was a terrific week at camp and one I will not soon forget.  Thank you to all the amazing parents, siblings, survivors, and volunteers who participated in the camp and showed me why the work CBTF does is so important.  

To see some pictures, check out our Facebook page album: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/media/set/?set=a.10151118011803563.463690.110791063562&type=1  

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