My Trip to Oregon #2: Camp Millennium
This is Eloise Butler’s native prairie, which is full of wildflowers and bumblebees!
Hello friends, good news! I am officially a published writer. A start-up organization called RootsRated has hired me to write about the hiking trails near Minneapolis. They are a great resource if you are in a new city and want to find a good local hiking trail or restaurant. My first article is about The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. You can find it here. Let me know what you think!
In my last post, I had updated you all on my Oregon trip; mostly focusing on my time in Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene. For part two of my Oregon story, I will tell you about Camp Millennium, which is a camp for children dealing with cancer. It is a week long camp full of fun activities, such as swimming, archery, zip lining, and horse riding. It is pretty much like any other camp, except that some of the campers may have a past or present cancer diagnosis. I say some because we invite siblings to attend camp, as well.
I have been volunteering for 3 years now and something I learned right away was that usually you have no idea which kid has or does not have cancer. Sure, there may be a child without hair or someone may have a scar from a previous port in their chest (usually due to Leukemia), but often enough they look like any other kid. And, honestly, they are just kids. They want to run, wrestle, swim, climb trees, and do kid-like things. And that’s exactly what we let them do; we give them the opportunity to be as silly as they want to be (with some adult supervision, of course).
So, that is why Camp Millennium exists. It gives these children the chance to get away from their homes and their hospitals and be around other children that totally get them. Camp M has everything that the children need. There are doctors, nurses, medical equipment, trained staff, and living space to take care of over 100 campers. And the best part? It is COMPLETELY free for the families. Every staff member volunteers time out of their year to make Camp M happen. Now, isn’t that something?
I remember in my first year of camp, I was a camp counselor for the 6-8 years old boys, and I had a camper who had never been to camp before. He had just turned 7 and he told me the very first morning that he was nervous to be away from home for 1 week. It was later that morning, when we were heading to the swimming pool that I noticed he didn’t want to take his shirt off. It was then that I realized he had a port in his chest (I could see the port through his shirt). Before I could say anything, a girl in the pool asked him why he wasn’t in the pool yet. At first, he didn’t say anything, but then he noticed she had a port on her chest too. Within a second, he took off his shirt and showed her his port. Then they joked around that they were twins and he quickly jumped in the pool with his new friend. For the rest of the week, he wasn’t shy at all and even cried a little bit when he had to leave camp. I will forever remember that moment because that is what Camp M is all about.
I could write a novel about all the times I laughed, cried, sang, and danced at Camp Millennium, but for now I’ll just leave it at that and hope that you will take a moment to look at their site. Maybe even consider giving some money to help for the upcoming year. There is also GoodShop.com, which will designate a percentage of what you buy through Amazon, Gap, Best Buy, and other stores to Camp M at no extra cost for you! The Camp M Council and sub-committees work diligently all year to fundraise more and more money, so that more and more children can attend camp each year. If you have any questions or want to hear more stories, then feel free to email me. I’d love to chat about it with you.
After camp, I caught a ride back to Portland and got to spend my last 1.5 days in Oregon with friends. Two of them were kind enough to drive me to Mt. Tabor and I got to see the Portland cityscape from afar. I was also lucky enough to get a good picture of Mt. Hood as well (I could even see Mt. Saint Helens!). For my final night, my friend, Elena, brought me to a geek trivia night. Little did I know, Elena invited a bunch of old college friends to come along. I was surprised to see my friends from Corvallis again. They drove all the way up to give me a final goodbye. I’m fortunate to have so many good people in my life. The following morning, a buddy of mine dropped off some Blue Star Donuts as a farewell gift and I was whisked away to the airport to catch my flight back to MSP.
What have I been up to since I’ve been back? Well, mostly I’ve been taking advantage of the awesome Minnesota weather. I’ve been playing frisbee, swimming in the lakes, biking around town, paddle boarding, going to trivia with friends, jamming around bonfires, and, of course, hiking for my new job. Life is pretty good for me right now, and for that I am grateful.
I’ll be busy writing for RootsRated for the next couple months, but I’ll make sure to write a post soon. It’ll probably be about my canoe trip in the Boundary Waters!