Yesterday, it was "Orange Day" for Craig's company and our family joined his company in a day of volunteering. (It is called "Orange Day" because his company's logo color is orange.) Anyway, we joined about 60 other people from all over the state of Alabama and converged at Lake Martin to prep Camp Smile-a-Mile for the summer. If you are not familiar with Camp Smile-a-Mile, let me tell you about it. This is from their website....www.campsam.org.
Camp Smile-A-Mile (SAM) is a non-profit organization in Alabama for children who have or have had cancer. Year round programs are provided for the campers and their family at no cost. It's permanent camping location is on Lake Martin.
Why did Camp SAM start?
Before Camp SAM, children with cancer in Alabama couldn’t go to overnight camp because of chemotherapy or other medical treatments. Now, children with cancer can attend camp while receiving the medical care they need. More than 400 children participate in Camp SAM annually
With the creation of Camp Smile-A-Mile in 1985, these special children would be able to participate in a normal camping environment while remaining under medical supervision. Before Camp SAM, many children were not able to go to a sleepover camp because they were undergoing chemotherapy. Now every child up to age eighteen who is a current or former cancer patient can go to camp through our program. Qualified medical personnel from the Hematology-Oncology Department at The Children’s Hospital stay at the camp during each camping session. They administer chemotherapy as well as take care of all the first aid needs of the campers.
We did everything from plant new flowers, mulch beds, paint flowerpots, make gift bags for the moms and daughters to have "spa night" to repair bicycles, build picnic tables and wash boats! Here are some pics......
We were slways aware that this facility was used to minister to children and families who are currently struggling with cancer or had been struggling with cancer. At lunch, the Program Director shared with us that a group of families would be arriving that night that had just been diagnosed with cancer. Don't you know that their world was spinning ? I couldn't even begin to imagine the amount of emotions those families were experiencing. And all we had to do was give of our time and skill (somewhat limited in some areas!) to add a little sunshine to their lives. We gave 8 hours - really not much in the big picture.
But we were challenged to give more of our time and of ourselves. Twice.
Once by the program director when she issued a very simple challenge at lunch. She said "We need volunteers to give of themselves during the summer camps and I guarantee you will receive more from coming here than going to lay on any beach anywhere in the world!"
Second, by Craig's former boss who asked me a simple question after lunch. He said, "Hey Debra, do you think you and Craig would join Kay and me in giving a week of your time next summer down here ?" Without hesistation, and speaking for Craig since he was somewhere else, I replied with "sure - if they let my children come too!"
I was reminded of Jesus who told his disciples "Let the little children come to me." Don't you know the children smiled at the sight of Jesus and at the sound of his voice and the touch of his hands ?
Oftentimes, our pastor has said, in matters of love, one must go himself. I think in situations like Camp SAM, it is nice to give financially, but these children and families need to see and feel the Body of Christ envelop them as they walk through the journey of cancer.
In matters of love, one must go himself.