A Camp Ta Come Ta
“Wouldn’t it be great to have a camp ta come ta,” said the youngster in Fletcher Allen’s children’s oncology ward. And so, Camp Ta-Kum-Ta was born. The details might not be spot-on, but I think I caught the gist of it. When I was a young boy of camp-going age, my parents sent me to 4-H camp. We made wallets, learned to swim, canoe, shoot arrows, make up camp songs, tie-dye t-shirts, sit around a big campfire, and make some friends. The nurse’s cabin gave out band-aids, first aid cream, and the occasional aspirin. (At Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, they have an incredible infirmary that even includes chemotherapy.)
Once home, I’d hop on my bike, ride to my friends’ houses and share my camp adventures. After a few minutes, I was off to start a ball game, or tag, or hide-and-seek. Summer camp was a temporary detour from the everyday good times that a kid should have.
I’m older now, with children of my own. As they grew, it never occurred to me that we would have anything BUT healthy children, or how I could cope with these four words: “Your child has cancer.”
Four years ago, cancer claimed my best friend. While sitting with him through chemotherapy sessions, I learned that chemo makes you very cold because your veins are filled with room-temperature poison, and your weakened body has a hard time keeping itself at its normal 98.6° temperature. How miserable is that?
What if that was your whole life, or worse, your child’s whole life? You can’t exactly fit chemo treatments in with archery and swim lessons. Treating cancer costs money, so even if your child was strong enough to send to camp, how could you afford it? Life isn’t fair, but doesn’t a kid fighting cancer deserve at least a few days of summertime fun?
I ride a Harley, and my involvement with the local Harley Owners Group has given me the opportunity to join the 3rd Annual Ride for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. I can give a little time and a little money to help these kids (and their parents) get a short break and have some good, pure, fun.
I wish I could do more. I wish I could cure cancer and put Camp Ta-Kum-Ta out of business forever. But I can’t. The best I can do is donate my time and money, and reach out to friends, relatives, and others in my life to ask for their help.
If you ride, and you’re even THINKING you should join us on Saturday, I’m here to tell you that you should. Registration fees help send kids to camp, and just your presence is good for your spirit and the spirit of everyone around you.
At the end of the day you’ll be helping a kid with cancer. How often do you get that opportunity?