Without Trust, There Would be no Campfire Circle

family picture at camp with lake and trees in background

In order to run a successful camp experience, we rely on the support of donors, volunteers, and staff. But at the core is the trust from caregivers who give us permission to take care of their kids, whether it’s in hospitals, in the community or at overnight camp. Without this privilege, there would be no Campfire Circle.

Maddy was 15 months old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. In 2019, she underwent major brain surgery and chemotherapy treatment at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. She was in the hospital for months, and recovery was challenging for her parents, her older sister Emy, and especially for Maddy.

While Maddy was in hospital, she met Ken, the Campfire Circle Program Manager at SickKids. Together, they played music (her favourite songs by The Wiggles) and he kept her company during a lonely, isolating time.

Last fall, Maddy, Emy, and her parents went to family camp at Rainbow Lake for the first time and they all loved the experience of connecting with each other outside of treatments.

Emy also went to sibling camp at Muskoka for the first time. Maddy’s parents were a little hesitant at first.

father and child on dock at camp

“Emy is the kind of kid where you send her upstairs with a fresh pair of socks to put on before we leave, she’ll come down in a random costume, carrying a book—and not wearing socks!,” says Robert, Maddy and Emy’s dad. “So, we really didn’t know how she would do on her own.”

It turns out Emy loved every minute of camp and made fast friends! Emy likes to read before bed and would prefer to sleep with the light on. Her counsellors set up a little area where she could read and keep a light on in bed. On the second night, one of her cabin mates asked if they could bunk together, and Emy agreed. She was so grateful her cabin mate had asked because Emy really wanted to as well, but didn’t know how to approach her first.

Much to her parents’ surprise, Emy also did the polar bear plunge every morning. “We did not expect that!” says Robert.

“As parents, we also knew that Emy would be with other kids who had experienced very upsetting events that they had no control over. These are all kids with some fragility, and they don’t even have to talk about it. They just understand each other and it’s such a precious gift,” says Robert.

family at camp with sunset behind them


“We could not be more grateful or effusively happy about our experiences with Campfire Circle. Every single person who makes any donation is part of the story, part of Emy and Maddy’s story. We’re just so grateful.”

From bedside activities in hospitals to overnight camp, Campfire Circle’s programs brought Maddy, Emy and her family joy during every stage of the cancer journey.

Thank you to the Routh family, and the many families, who allow us into your circle of care.

Skip to content