What Happened to the Camp I Used to Know?

As many of you know or have read in previous blog posts of mine, I went to a camp for kids with CHD from the age of 8 till I graduated high school my senior year. I loved camp more than anything in the world. It was the one place where I was normal and where everyone was like me. It was the only place where my scar wasn't abnormal or strange because everyone had one.
Growing up with camp, we were told that once we graduated the camp wanted us to come back as counselors so other CHD patients who would attend camp would get to see grown ups who made it and lived with their CHD. While graduating from camp was difficult, I looked forward to coming back as a counselor and being able to do for new heart kids what this camp had done for me. Sadly, two years in a row this camp that I have loved so much has not only said no to me, but turned it's back on me. 

Last year when I applied as a counselor, I was informed that there would be interviews held in Arizona for the AZ people who were applying as counselors. It was over my Spring Break and I planned on attending as long as I got back in time from my pacemaker/defibulator battery change up in Palo Alto California. Well we all know that with me, my health never goes as it should and I ended up having complications, which caused me to stay a week in the ICU there. From the ICU, I contacted the camp along with the people who were going to be giving the interviews and let them know what happened. While the group who was in charge of the interviews were understanding and still gave me a great recommendation, camp was not as understanding and I ended up getting wait listed isntead of accepted. Wanting to let the camp director know just what exactly had happened, I sent an e-mail to her.

I was disappointed that the camp director who has known me for the past 10 years of my life did not contact me back. Instead I heard back from her daughter who at the time was in charge of counselors told me that a wait list was not a no and that it was not because I missed the interview day. She told me that if a spot became available due to someone dropping out, those wait listed would  be contacted. No one had to drop out as a counselor, so I was not able to go.

There is a group for CHD patients that have graduated who still want to participate in camp and they hold events every now and then. I got an e-mail earlier this year for a retreat after I applied as a counselor. However the retreat was over the same weekend as my little sister's confirmation day. On top of that, it was out of state (so I couldn't even attend partially). So I e-mailed the new camp director (who is the daughter that I heard back from last year) about this. I have posted below the string of e-mails we shared, starting with my e-mail to her, then her reply and my reply after that. 
Her reply: 
My reply: 

It was disappointing to me to see that this year I was not even wait listed, I got a no. 

For years I have felt as if I was an ambassador for camp. They made a promotional video one year where I was featured. I even have written poems about camp that they have used in their newsletter. My parents for several years paid for us to attend their Gala which is a fundraiser, that I sadly always got sick before and could not attend. Not only that, instead of charging people to stay in our beach house up in Oregon, they ask them to make a donation to this camp. (Whether they made a donation or not, we don't know, but we did ask).

Wanting to know what I could do differently or what I could improve on for next year, I sent them an e-mail asking what qualifications they were looking for in a camp counselor. Here is another set of e-mails I got back from the new director. 

Her reply: 

My reply to her was this: 
I sent that e-mail on last Sunday and I am still waiting for a reply. As some of you know I had a recent doctor appointment with my cardiologist and my EP doctor. When I shared my disappointment with my medical team, they too were confused as to how the camp came to a conclusion that I was not strong enough to be a counselor for a camp.  I asked if camp had contacted them for my records or to talk about my health, and they said no. They were surprised and sad for me that they had turned me down along with confused as to how camp came up with that conclusion without contacting them. 

When I asked about qualifications that they look for, it seemed as if their biggest point was physical strength, which is interesting coming from a camp for those with CHD looking for CHD survivors as counselors. I think it's important to have other qualities in a camp counselor. For the past three years I have taught ASL to kids ranging from 8 years old to 15. I received the "Person of Character" award which was only granted to one girl out of my 600 high school graduating class when I graduated. I was chosen to be a peer mentor for incoming freshman at my college along with being part of my college's community service program. I give anti-bullying talks to middle schoolers and high schoolers along with helping out at my church's nursery when I can. I do this all in-spite of my CHD and PH, while maintaining a good enough GPA to be in the honor's program at my college. 

There is a Facebook account for the camp that is friends with not only myself but some of my camp friends who have gotten accepted as counselors. Being a friend on FB means that the camp can see what we post, so it was surprising to me to see that one of my friends who posts regularly about smoking hookah got accepted as a counselor and yet I did not. 

I will always appreciate what camp gave to me as a camper but now its a topic that is sad for me to think about. I love the life long friends I have made through this camp but it's heartbreaking for me to think about what this camp has become. What happened to the camp that I thought encouraged all the aged out campers to come back as counselors? I ask myself, what happened to the camp I loved? 

Disappointed and Heartbroken,


  1. Becca, we're sending you a HUGE hug! You are a super strong and compassionate young lady, let's just consider this the camp's loss. Unfortunately, it also means a lot of our younger heart kiddos also lose the chance to learn all you have to teach. Very sad....

  2. Becca,
    I'm really sad to hear that your not going to be at camp this year. And I agree with your that camp has definitely changed. Not necessarily badly, but it has definitely changed from what it used to be. For example, I had emailed the new camp director (who you mentioned above) and not only did it take a few days to almost a week to receive an email back, it wasn't even from her, it was from someone in the office of who I had never met.
    Also, in my opinion, I believe that having someone post all the time about hookah is fine, and I think that solely on the fact that hookah is completely and 100% legal. Yes, its still a drug but I don't think that that should have any effect on whether or not someone should be a counselor or not. If this person were talking about smoking weed all the time, than it would be a completely different story. Again, I'm not saying that your opinion is wrong, I am just sharing mine as well.

    1. While I know that hookah is legal, I believe that a counselor with CHD should be a role model to other CHD kids of how to treat your body. I have been told by my doctors that smoking hookah is not something they would recommend anymore than smoking cigarrettes. I doubt many heart parents would want their child to think smoking hookah is something they can do.

      As for the camp changing, since I've posted this blog post I have heard back from several former and current counselors that camp has changed, and sadly, not for the better.

      I wish the best for all the campers this year.


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