Yes, Friday found us off to Camp Boggy Creek. The camp is a couple hours away from us in the thriving metropolis known as Eustis, FL......or Cassia, FL. Depends on which side of a pasture your on I believe. Being as a LOT of Florida is literally "boggy", I was wondering if we were off to a few cabins in the middle of a swamp.
Not even close.
Boggy Creek was an amazing surprise. Calling the place a "camp" doesn't truly describe what it has to offer. Yes the activities are very similar to those of attended by countless kids during "summer camps", that is - kids without such diseases. Boggy Creek is tailor-made for kids that are battling a long list of nasty, life-threatening diseases. We "camped" in a quite comfy bunkhouse for 8, which is air-conditioned and heated. Plenty of room and footlockers at each bed! This made me briefly remind Derry of a scene or two from "Full Metal Jacket"......but I digress.
This weekend was one of the Camp's "Spring Family Weekends". Basically seems to be a primer for families to get to know the place, or comeback for a return visit (we decided to try it out, as we're considering sending Scott for the week-long session this summer - all alone). We were all a bit shocked at the beginning, but that wore off rather quickly. We were greeted by Nick, our 'Camp Pal' for the weekend as soon as we drove up to our cabin. Nick is a student at FSU and a volunteer for the weekend. He was wonderful with all of us, and especially the boys. We thought Scott may wear him down on Saturday, as he was dragging him from activity to activity non-stop. Nick would simply ask "what do you want to do now?", Scott would answer, and they were on their way. Stephanie and I were apprehensive about arriving and letting Scott loose with someone we had never met, especially considering he hasn't really been out of our sight since diagnosis. Nick made quick work of making us comfortable in that regard.
It also was about Derry as well. Derry being 13 and far too cool to hardly even talk to us, much less strangers, had us worried. But it didnt' take long to figure out Nick also plays World of Warcraft and "has several Level 70's", which instantly made him someone to worship in Derry's eyes. Derry longs for a "Level 70", but has only made it to Level 30. LOL.
Scott got to shoot archery, mini-golf, boat, swim, sing, dance, play in the arcade and woodwork. We sat around Saturday wondering where in the world all his energy was coming from. He hasn't been that happy and active since he was diagnosed. He was on the go Saturday from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., with a brief break in the afternoon for about 90 minutes. I was sure this would result in him sleeping until noon Sunday, but I tapped him on the shoulder at 7:10 Sunday to ask if he wanted to lie in or go with Nick at 7:30. He just said "I'm gonna go with Nick", hopped up and got ready and was waiting on our porch when Nick came walking down the road.
It was all very nice to see and experience. The camp "pals" the place recruited were wonderful. Our endless thanks go to Nick, whom was a gem. There were also Norah (from a university in Toronto - which the name fails me) and Cari (from Yale) that spent time and interacted with the boys anytime they saw them. How they instantly remembered and accepted so many struggling kids with such trials is beyond me. I think most have a knack to be very special folks in life. More so than they are now.
But the hub of the wheel is a woman whom we still only know as "Kimmy". She never gave anyone her "title" or what her position was at camp. She obviously is the camp director or whatever one may be at such a place, but she only introduced herself as "Kimmy". She is an amazing person that seems to have endless energy for these kids. She even thought Stephanie's explanation of why we came was worthy of a "TV" (a wood one that hangs around the neck). The TV's traveled around to different folks over the weekend, as the original folks that got them were to give them to the next person they saw do something special. A little girl in the opposite side of our bunkhouse continually was opening the door for us each time we came up, I think in the hopes that Stephanie still had her TV - alas she had already given it up to another kid. I was pleased when the little girl showed up in the dining hall late Saturday with her own TV around her neck.
I know I'm rambling, but it was a very nice weekend. I think back and realize now that Scott hadn't spent a single night away from his bed since diagnosis that wasn't in a hospital bed. Camp Boggy Creek gave him a bed that was neither home, nor the hospital. And that is something which to him is priceless and long overdue.
Now if we can figure out the food hurdle with Scott (very picky eater, and may starve if there for a week) we can let him have a whole week that is "his", and only his.
Here's the the Boggy Creek Gang. Please go and check out their website. Founded by Paul Newman and Stormin' Normin', it is a great place. Probably best summed up by a quote from Paul Newman himself on the website:
"A place where kids can go, have fun and raise a little hell".