Camp provides peer support
It’s a shot of the new infused with a dose of the familiar at Camp Enchantment, New Mexico’s weeklong sleepaway camp for children who have battled cancer.
What’s new at the camp, which opened Sunday for its 27th session that lasts until Saturday: a peak number of participants – 84 – and a system to track the medical needs of all the campers, about half of whom take daily medications.
And what’s familiar at the camp, held at Manzano Mountain Retreat, an hour southeast of Albuquerque: arts and crafts, games, and all the other kids’ staples.
“Last night we got to sign up for all these activities!” said first-time camper Serenity Gatlin, 8, from Albuquerque, who’ll enter fourth-grade at Sandia Base Elementary. On her sign-up form, she’d written archery, sports and “Cake Boss,” held Monday afternoon.
Modeled after a TLC show of the same name, campers decorated unfrosted cakes. When asked where his cake was, Alec Lopez, an 11-year-old from Santa Fe who’d decorated his to resemble Cookie Monster, couldn’t produce it. “I shoved my face in it first,” he said.
Like Serenity and Alec, many of the kids whose parents dropped them off over the weekend don’t look different from other children, as they hugged their friends from last year and made shrinky-dinks and wove potholders.
Others, playing games in the gym and lunching on pizza and homemade peanut butter cookies, have scars from tumor surgeries or missing hair. Some campers receive chemotherapy orally at the Med Shed near the cafeteria, while others are in remission.