By Kate Pettyjohn, CRG Former Camper and Volunteer —
When I got on the bus for my first week of Sibling Camp at Camp Rainbow Gold in 2011, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Just eight months prior, my younger brother had been diagnosed with leukemia – a reality I was still struggling to process. I had no idea how to feel about having a sibling with cancer, let alone about attending a week of camp with other kids going through the same thing.
That week, I was greeted with joyful exuberance, lots of silly costumes, and some of the purest, unconditional love I’ve ever encountered. In that week, I found a family I didn’t know I needed, and a safe, joy-filled home that I couldn’t stop coming back to.
In the seven summers I spent as a Sibling Camper, my brother finished treatment and entered remission, but the love and acceptance at Camp were unchanging. Throughout the years, I realized that, even as a camper, I had a deep desire to give back to the CRG community and support other kids and families going through the immense burden that is childhood cancer.
The Joy of Giving Back
As someone who is intimately familiar with the experience of being a sibling of a child with cancer, I wanted to be able to show others (especially my fellow Siblings) the understanding, love, and acceptance that was shown to me. After two summers as a Junior Volunteer, I had the joy of being able to give back to the organization that gave me so much by serving as a Cabin Counselor at Sibling Camp for the first time last year. I’m thrilled to be coming back to spend another week this summer as a counselor at Sibling Camp!
I have a lot of treasured memories of my time with CRG, both as a camper and a volunteer. One of my favorite parts of Camp is seeing the little transformations that take place in the people who are new to the CRG family. Whether it be a new camper getting cheered on as they ride a bike for the first time, or watching a new volunteer participate in their first Wishcone Ceremony, I am reminded of the magic of Camp and the power of joy.
There is so much beauty and healing that happens amid the silliness, songs, and laughter of camp. It’s an honor to witness CRG change the lives of campers and volunteers alike, and it’s one of my favorite parts of being a volunteer. I can’t wait to spend another summer in my favorite place!