With more than 100 campers from New Jersey ages 6 through 16 in attendance, Camp No Worries, a program of the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties, opened its doors to children with cancer and their siblings from June 26 through July 1.
This camp was founded in 1995 by the Hall and Massa families after they experienced first-hand the physical and psychological aspects of a childhood cancer diagnosis when 11-year-old Kasey Hall Massa of Moorestown was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. After the emotional strain from this journey to recovery, Massa established Camp No Worries as a YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties program while she was attending West Virginia University.
“It was important to us to hold this event in Tabernacle because we serve the South Jersey region and we wanted to keep the camp close to the children’s families’ homes. We have kids who leave to go to treatment centers and therefore are able to come right back afterward,” Massa said. “I think being close to home makes it more comfortable for families who may be worried about sending their children away and for kids who may not have been away from mom or dad in a very long time.”
For the past 22 years, CNW has offered these children a weeklong getaway to Camp Inawendiwin in Tabernacle. Here, campers can forget about their daily troubles as they participate in various activities including archery, boating, human tic-tac-toe, song creation, camp-wide tug-a-war and more.
“My favorite part of Camp No Worries is all of the people I get to see every year because of it. It’s like a big family that I miss 51 weeks out of the year, until I finally get to see them again that 52 week,” said Ben Anenberg, a 16-year-old Shawnee High School junior who has been attending this camp since he was 6 years old.
Anenberg was diagnosed with Lukemia at age 4 and first met Massa at a clinic in Voorhees while receiving treatments. Since then, he and his younger brother Artie have been attending for seven years together — loving every year they get to spend together at the camp.
“I love coming to camp because now that I am a counselor, I get to share the amazing experiences that I had when I was a camper here,” said Nicole Fahs, a Seneca High School alumnus and Shamong resident. “Camp No Worries is really a family.”
Fahs first attended Camp No Worries with her older brother Brett, a cancer survivor. Today, she gives back through her volunteer efforts and inspires others through her music. Her website, www.nicolefahs.com, has videos of her music on YouTube.
Bringing a colorful twist to this year’s festivities, the theme “Color Warped” was integrated into the weeklong competitions. Cabins were organized into different color teams, earning points each day through participation in the numerous activities. At the end of the week, the team with the most points was named CNW Color Warped Champion 2016.
Other event highlights from CNW’s 22nd year included a tea party and rocket ship building day, an inflatable creations outdoor evening activity and the color run and other messy games held on the final day of camp.
Run solely by volunteers, CNW has a staff comprising pediatric oncology nurses, social workers, cabin counselors and program heads — all selectively chosen for their experience and enthusiasm in working with children affected by cancer. Each of these volunteers was selected for their demonstration of commitment, honesty, courage, perseverance, respect and responsibility — characteristics any parent would expect of someone spending a week caring for their child with cancer.
“I think having attended this camp could have changed my experience because it would have showed me that there are other kids like me and I wouldn’t have felt so alone,” Massa said. “I also think it could have showed me that there are still fun things I could have done that everything wasn’t a ‘can’t’ and there were still ‘cans’ out there.”