A magical place.

Camp Ooch. Where do I even begin?

There are so many reasons why it my favourite place in the world. The past two summers I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity of volunteering at camp in Muskoka and each time I love it more and more.

Camp Oochigeas is a camp for children affected with cancer, but by no means is it a sad place. Ooch is a place where you feel supported. People come with all sorts of experiences but when you’re at camp it’s like one big family. I only wish the rest of the world could be more like Ooch. The resilient campers, who despite the struggles they are facing come to camp and do some pretty incredible things.  The volunteers and staff who dedicate their time to give these kids the chance to just be kids are by far some of the most genuine people I know.

Each day at camp is filled with music, dancing, laughter, smiles, and an overwhelming sense of fun. Of course there are definitely moments that can be challenging with campers and co-counsellors because we are all human, but what is remarkable is that people at Ooch care to resolve issues as they happen in a way that allows the people involved to continue to enjoy the rest of their day. The volunteers and campers alike surprise me with their ability to handle these situations with such grace.

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This year I was able to take a group of teenage campers on a three day canoe trip and I was absolutely blown away by the experience. There’s something about being out in the wilderness and working hard that can really bond a group of people. Being disconnected from the world really allowed me the opportunity to truly take in the moment and live the experience. Throughout the hot hours of paddling and portaging the girls were always eager to pitch in and help. The girls kept smiling and laughing throughout the trip which helped me to stay motivated even when carrying a 90 pound canoe on my back across a portage many times over.

Now I’m home from camp and it is so hard to leave such an amazing place for another year. All I can do is try to take a piece of camp, the feeling I have when I’m there, and implement it into my everyday life. This is definitely easier said than done and it is going to be an ongoing process. All I can do is consciously decide to be positive and supportive even if those around me are not. I’ve learned from my campers that no struggle is too big to still enjoy the little things in life.

‘Til next summer Ooch! 🙂

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