Let’s hear it for Camp Wapiyapi!

At the end of every summer, we send out surveys to parents and counselors. Since these surveys are often anonymous, we can’t attribute a name to the quote.

A few parents have been kind enough to write us a letter giving us amazing insight into their experience at Camp Wapiyapi. Here are two of the letters: Tunnel of Love and An Open Love Letter. These kind words mean a lot of us because what we do at Camp Wapiyapi is important.

From Campers

“I wish cancer had a butt, because I would kick it.”
– Myles

“This was the first time I felt equal in my family’s cancer journey. It wasn’t just about my sister’s cancer; I realized that I too am important.”
– A camper

“I loved the high ropes course. It was really scary at first, but my team cheered me on. My 5th grade class is doing a high ropes course and my teacher said I get to be a coach since I have done it before. I can help my class build confidence and work as a team the way Camp Wapiyapi helped me which is pretty cool.”
– A camper

“I like the activities and the companions. I like how they spend time with you, and they’re focused on you. And they make sure you’re having fun and that you’re still taking all your meds.”
– A camper

“When I saw the giant banner welcoming us to Camp Wapiyapi, I begged my parents to turn around. I had no interest in attending a camp centered around a disease, let alone with my brother in tow. But I discovered a camp filled with love, support, and most importantly, endless fun”
– A camper

“At Camp Wapiyapi I did something I’ve never done before: the high ropes, an obstacle course 15 feet in the air. Conquering my fear felt amazing and when I looked down, I could see my companion who was overjoyed I did it.”
– Nate

“Going through chemo again, I close up like a flower all the time ‘cause I am nervous how people will react to me. But at Camp Wapiyapi I bloom again ‘cause people here are so kind.”
– Jessa

“I want to thank you for how fun Wapiyapi is and how it is so amazing and why it is unforgettable.”
– Lauryn

From Parents

“It is a shining light in a very dark night for our family and there are no words to say how thankful and appreciative we are.”

“My daughter really bonded with others. She made new friends and was happy to connect with other siblings of cancer patients. She came home feeling a part of a community that understood her, finally!”

“Such a great experience for him. He grew as a person and had SO much fun!”

“We love that she could spend a few days just being a regular kid.”

“Having a medical team helps ease my worries. You guys are awesome.”

“She met others with similar experiences. And you got her outside! She tried new things.”

“Thanks for Wapiyapi. Both of my kids – the survivor, but most importantly, the sibling – developed a renewed appreciation for the lives that they have and a strong desire to help others.”

“Camp Wapiyapi was such a wonderful experience for my daughter. Her new friends could really relate to her experiences. Over the past year, she repeatedly tried to bury the trauma and anxiety related to her diagnosis and treatment. Camp allowed her to ‘let go’ of (the) stress and truly smile again!”
– Casey

“For my kids to be around and immersed with kids just like them makes them so incredibly happy. Happy like I haven’t seen them before diagnosis. This gives them a sense of peace and joy that nothing else can!”

“Camp Wapiyapi has changed our lives. We have been stuck in this cancer battle for seven years. It allows kids impacted by cancer to be kids. Nobody at this camp cares if you have hair of even if you can walk. Everybody is loved.”

“Wapiyapi’s focus is on relationships, not things or presents. The companions and other adult leaders visit our family often on their own time. They visit us at the hospital. Words do not adequately express how helpful this has been.”

Summer Counselors

“I smiled and told (the camper’s mom), ‘I think you need to rename your daughter’s name to Giggles because all she did all of camp was laugh and smile.’ The next thing I knew her mother began to cry and I wrapped my arms around her. She proceeded to say, ‘Ellie hasn’t smiled or laughed since her sister was diagnosed.’ And in that second my life changed forever. Camp isn’t just a playground or a week for parents to take a break, but also it is a life changing experience for each and every person involved in it. This camp lets these children just be kids for once. It’s a place where cancer isn’t a bad word and we can share how it affects us. Camp is almost a magical world where these kids can break away from the general stereotype of being sick or broken and instead be heroes and princesses or whatever their hearts desires. It gives them a week to be the star of their own show and to forget about all the troubles life can bring on us.”
– Sarah

“At Wapiyapi there is an understanding of why everyone is there. We don’t make the kids discuss it unless they want to. Instead, we help them get their mind off of the troubles they and their families are facing. It is a beautiful thing.”

“Wapiyapi was a life changing experience to see the strength and happiness and love in those children making me admire them and making me so much more grateful for everything in my life.”

“As a sibling, I know that the patient with cancer is not the only person affected by the diagnosis.”