Camp Esperanza provides kids with cancer a week of fun and friendship while building confidence!
Camp Esperanza provides kids with cancer the opportunity to enjoy summer camp, with the benefit of medical supervision. Camp provides a break during which young patients can share in the best medicine of all - HOPE! The Bridewell Foundation makes this happen for 140 kids each summer. We also offer a fall teen retreat for campers for ages 15-18. Camp Esperanza allows kids to just be kids.
I remember lying in a hospital bed…hooked up to an IV machine, exhausted and sick, watching a video that the doctor had brought in about Camp Esperanza. As I watched a teenage boy climb a rock wall, the only thing I could think was, "All I wanna do is sleep right now. I highly doubt I'll be going to camp anytime soon." It wasn't until the following year that I reconsidered.
I was once again sitting at a pint sized craft table in the Children's Medical Center Oncology Clinic waiting room… and I wasn't the lone resident of the table. Another patient, a boy named Jordan a few years older, had joined me… I can't quite remember how, but our conversation turned to the subject of Camp Esperanza, a camp for patients. He was a camp veteran, and a very enthusiastic one at that. He was raving about the incredible experiences and the nonstop fun that he had. The more he talked, the more animated his stories became. One couldn't help but share in his excitement! When I look back on that conversation, it was the impetus that finally changed my mind."
Jensen would quickly find out what so many who have attended Camp Esperanza know, that camp is truly a special place. The week is inspiring, motivating, exhausting, invigorating, in other words, totally awesome. That first summer and the seven more to follow would transform Jensen from an "uncertain little girl" to a young lady who can claim her time at camp has "made me braver, made me want to be myself everywhere I go, and has taught me not to take life for granted." And she has stayed true to her statement.
A counselor for kids with cancer
For the past few summers, Jensen has worked as a member of the staff at Camp John Marc, the host site for Camp Esperanza. As a member of the staff, Jensen is making good on her desire to be "a counselor for kids with cancer." Making good, and more. Not only does she serve others during our week of the summer, she is also there for the many other camps serving children with various special needs. The initiative and drive she has for all things Camp Esperanza, and now Camp John Marc, has led her to prepare for a career as a child life specialist. Who knows, perhaps sometime in the future she will serve in yet another vital role at Camp Esperanza! If she does, those campers will be in great hands, for she can truly tell them, "The one thing that has formed and unbreakable bond between us is the fact that we are all survivors. We have all overcome one of the most difficult things that life could throw at us… cancer. We have all come face to face with its malevolence… when you look at us; we are as diverse as they come. Every last one of us, however, has that unspoken bond."
In the words of her favorite counselor, "We love you Miss Jensen!"