From the Heart

It’s for the Kids!

Comments from Campers

Crazy! Awesome! Super funny! I had the time of my life at the Disco Party! Very cool!

I had a fishing project with my best friends Dustin and Cooper and getting to spend time with them while getting to do my favorite activity was so AWESOME!

Ropes! Do it again! Do it again! Ropes! Ropes! Ropes!

I loved it!

This year was the best!! Ya’ll always do an awesome job at getting set up! I’m really gonna miss going every year but I’m hoping that I get to go to teen retreat until I can’t go anymore! Every year at camp always impacts me because I’m around people who are just like me!

I loved everything! I can’t wait to come back next year.

Camp was absolutely amazing. I loved it to the fullest!

Comments from Parents

Just do it!!! It’s harder on you than them. They love it! It’s a chance for them to be (feel) normal and have fun!

It’s a great experience for the child to attend Camp Esperanza. The children have fun and they don’t need to worry about being at the hospital.

It’s always sad to send them off on a big bus, but it’s a time that for one week your child is like everyone else. They don’t have people staring and whispering. It’s a time they get to make friends that will forever impact their lives.

I have watched her grow from the first camp. The best part is knowing you guys have showed her that there is life outside of her cancer. Thank you.

Testimonial from a Camper now Counselor

Pam Ledbetter
Pam Ledbetter Camper now Counselor
All through school, I was the kid who knew everyone. I was friends with all the popular kids, but was not really popular myself. I always felt that I was a little bit different, especially since it was hard to hide the physical scars and indications of my treatment. So, while I “fit in”, I did not really feel that I “fit”, except at camp. At camp, I was a rock star. Looking back, we were all rock stars at Camp Esperanza.

Click here to read more of Pam's Testimonial

I was ten years old when I started. I spent six summers at camp and attended Teen Retreat for three more years. I consider Camp Esperanza to be an intensely influential aspect of my life. To have attended camp during such a formative time of my life, when I was a pre-teen and teenager coping with the aftermath of a traumatic incident like cancer, gave my experiences importance. Every moment of the day for that week each summer, I had dozens of adults surrounding me with encouragement and challenging me to try new activities. I met lifelong friends in my cabin who knew what it meant to endure cancer as a child. I found a community of people who loved me actively and overwhelmingly.

Earlier this summer, I was given the opportunity to speak with parents about why I became a counselor and why they should feel confident to send their child to camp. What I know about camp is that you will rarely find a group of adults who want so badly to pour love, grace and strength into the lives of children. In my nine years as a camper and three years counseling, I have found that the quality and strength of character of our volunteers only increases with time. Parents should know that not only will their children be safe and have a wonderful time, but that the campers will learn to view camp as a milestone in their lives. It is a time when they understand a little more about why they have cancer and a lot more about how incredible their lives are because of that struggle.

When I consider why I became a counselor at camp, I really consider what life would be like if I had not. It would be empty. It would be foolish. Because not making an attempt to contribute to an experience that so vastly shaped my character would be like turning my back on my parents and refusing to acknowledge their provision in my life. I hope that in the years I spend counseling at Camp Esperanza I am able to encourage, strengthen and laugh with other children to some fraction of the extent that others have done for me.

I recall a vague memory of camp one summer; I was sitting on a bench with Sarah Mehringer (a fellow camper-turned-counselor), and we were likely about twelve years old. We promised each other that we would both come back to Esperanza when we turned 21, and we would counsel together for as long as we were able.

I am so thrilled to be fulfilling that promise.

– Pam Ledbetter