Jacob was a little shy when he first met the in-hospital team at SickKids. He didn’t like being the center of attention, but he did enjoy the opportunity to be in the playroom with other kids.
In true camp fashion, the in-hospital team got to know him and his family well. “Discovering his love of trains, cars, and music created the foundation we needed to engage with Jacob at his level,” says Taylor, in-hospital program specialist. “Building trust and a rapport with our Campers is where the magic of camp starts.”
Months later, Jacob and his family came to their first community programs outside the hospital. “It was so great to see them,” says Olivia, in-hospital program manager. “They came to our Bluegrass breakfast, the dinner and a movie program, and after a while, everyone started to feel more comfortable with the idea of sending Jacob to programs on his own.” After learning more about the summer day camp program, Jacob’s parents registered him for a full two-week session.
*Camper and family names and images have been changed to protect privacy
Jacob’s first day of day camp was both exciting and scary. “Many of our first-time Campers arrive with hesitation,” says Hilary, in-hospital program specialist. “They explore their new surroundings, wide-eyed with delight and fear, but it doesn’t take long before the fear subsides and joy and laughter overshadow any reservations they may have had.”
As the hours passed, it became clear that he was not only comfortable with the routine of day camp, he was going to love it! The volunteer counsellors noticed this quiet, shy guy coming out of his shell.
“Jacob was making new friends, learning new skills and tackling opportunities with enthusiasm and confidence. Activities like archery, mini golf, tag, and arts & crafts became his favourite things to do. Nothing however could top his enthusiasm for swimming,” says Olivia, “The smile on his face was intoxicating. In fact, trying to keep up with Jacob when it was time to go to the pool kept us all on our toes!”
Jacob’s growth over his next two weeks at day camp was simply amazing,” says Olivia. “The trust he had in his fellow Campers, the safety he felt in a community that celebrated his achievements—as well as the friends he made—brought so much joy to both him and his family.” Day camp is where Jacob rediscovered the joy of being a kid, and cancer was forced to take a back seat on this incredible journey.