Last week, the camp for kids and siblings dealing with a diagnosis of cancer reached its 25th anniversary at Camp Inawendiwin in Tabernacle.
From June 24 to 29, approximately 100 campers from all over the tri-state, ages 6 through 16, spent their time zip-lining across the camp’s lake, rock-climbing, boating and participating in various activities.
But more importantly, they spent their week with people who know exactly what they’re going through.
“For the past 25 years, Camp No Worries has been providing children affected by a diagnosis of cancer with a safe and fun place to just be kids and forget about their worries,” said Kasey Massa, president and executive director of the camp. “From swimming, boating, and cooking to arts and crafts and more, our camp gives campers the true sleep-away camp experience. Our mission is to provide our campers with an environment built on camaraderie and understanding, because everyone knows firsthand what it’s like to live with cancer.”
Massa is one of nearly 67 volunteers ranging from pediatric oncology nurses, social workers, cabin counselors and program heads.
This year, the camp has 12 cancer survivors on staff.
One of them is Ben Anenburg, a 19-year-old camp counselor, who first came to camp in 2006 when he was 6 years old.
“It’s definitely comforting to come to a place like this where everyone here knows what you’ve gone through,” said Anenburg.
Sometimes Anenburg will see a new kid come to camp with a catheter, in which he sees the child is embarrassed by it. But when camp continues, he sees those same children open up, which for Anengburg, comes full circle to when he used to be shy about losing his hair as a child.
But for Anenburg, and even Massa, the focus isn’t just on the kids going through treatment.
Anenburg considers the camp experience to be as much for the siblings as it is for the patience who might not be the focus of their family because the parents are focusing on the child that’s going through treatment.
“Both that child in treatment and that sibling who may be out of focus get to come and be the most important person of there life for that week,” said Anenburg.
Over the past 25 years, the camp has given nearly 2,000 campers a summer camp experience to remember.
The average cost for each child to attend Camp No Worries is $1,200. The dedicated staff of volunteers works diligently to ensure no family has to bear the financial burden of camp. Funding for the camp depends on the generosity and financial support of community organizations, businesses, foundations and individuals to provide each camper a free week of summer camp. To support a camper, visit https://www.campnoworries.org/support/become-a-sponsor/.
“When I decided to start this camp 25 years ago, I never imagined being able to help and reach this many children and families. I know that experiences, friendships, fun and memories that happen at Camp No Worries last far longer than just the week these children attend camp – we are helping kids make life-long friends,” said Massa.