Our first time on visitor's night at Camp Fantastic in Front Royal, Virginia, did not disappoint. In fact, husband Bill and I were giddy driving out to the northern gateway of the Shenandoah Valley and it's beautiful surrounding mountains. There we descended on the camp where 107 childhood cancer campers aged 7-17 were found having the time of their lives...at least for one week out of the year, and dinner was being served by a local Kiwanis (Rappahannock) group. Son, Ryan, was a camper through those years, and now is a full-fledged bona fide camp counselor with his charges being 11/12 year old boys. So for a few hours, we were able to see a glimpse and feel the "magic" of camp that our kids have tried to explain to us for years. Yes, we've gone to family weekends, parent retreats etc., but, nothing can ever compare to this week (along with BRASS week in July)!
And in 16 years, we were, thankfully, able to say "Happy Birthday" one day early "in-person" to Ryan, which was a great highlight too. Of course the medical team, volunteers and staff have truly kept this yearly camp as a well-oiled machine, and it was definitely a pleasure to see it all unfold before us, even for a few hours. A HUGE HOW-HOW to NIH, and all involved with this magical place, along with Tom and Sheila Baker, the founders, who had the vision back in 1983 to honor their young daughter who died of childhood cancer, and give other kids the chance to have FUN despite their cancers and any medical challenges they face.
Here is a short video "explaining" camp....
Photos from today: 1) Ryan with me and Bill; 2) me and Dr. Francis Collins, a "rock star" in my "book"...he mapped and sequenced human DNA plus he is the Director of the NIH... 3) Medical Director of the Camp Dr. Steve Chanock, chief nurse Tammy Jenkins and me; 4) Bill and I with Shari and Andy Fisher; 5) Dave Smith and Bill; 6) Jarvis Kuo and Bill