Williamstown family enjoys virtual Camp No Worries

Tabernacle experience transitions to homes amid pandemic.

From left: Maddie, 8, and her younger sister Whitney Toothman, 7, watch ‘Little Miss Dolittle’ for movie night and enjoy popcorn and candy, all provided by Camp No Worries (Lisa Toothman/Special to The Sun).

S’mores over a bonfire, Zoom sing-a-long meetings and family movie nights were all the Toothman family needed to enjoy Camp No Worries from home.

Williamstown’s Maddie Toothman has attended the camp since 2018, after her mother, Lisa, learned about the week-long sojourn in Tabernacle.

But because of COVID-19, this year’s Camp No Worries went virtual, with kids experiencing activities in their own homes thanks in part to a care package mailed by administrators and volunteers of the camp

“It was pretty fun seeing them interact with their counselors in person,” Lisa remarked. “They looked forward to the Zoom meetings as they could dance and spend time together. They sent gift cards where we could do movie nights and s’mores to cook them.

“I got a glimpse into what they do at camp and it was really cool to see.”

Attendees at the camp are either pediatric cancer patients or their siblings. The 26-year-old nonprofit seeks to deliver a stress- and worry-free week outdoors, away from hospitals and cancer treatments.

Three years ago in August, 5-year-old Maddie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After a transfer to the Voorhees CHOP location, Maddie’s mother was briefed on Camp No Worries by her daughter’s social worker, Darlene Richardson, and child life specialist, Brie Giordano.

“It was close and it was her first camp ever, and it was only half an hour away,” Lisa explained. “I wanted to be there for her in the event that something would happen.”

Her worries were also eased by camp counselors who shared photos of the kids on Facebook during activities. Last year, Maddie’s 7-year-old sister,  Whitney, also attended the camp..

“I love it; I think it’s going to be something that’s going to give them lifelong friends,” Lisa noted. “This is Maddie’s third year and they were talking about the different kids they met along the way, and she gets to befriend people who went through the same things she went through. Whitney also gets to meet other kids who are in similar situations with their siblings.”

This year’s virtual Camp No Worries issued gift bags to children’s homes that each contained a s’mores kit, a movie, popcorn, candy and crafts. For the first time, parents saw first-hand what their campers experienced.

Lisa said her girls could take advantage of the family’s six acres to

explore the outdoors at their home. Inside, the family hosted a movie night.  Lisa praised the camp’s counselors for their compassion toward the kids.

“Camp No Worries rocks and we hope they get to go next year,” she said.