Monthly Archives: May 2012

Camper-turned-companion gives back to Camp Quality

The sounds of children laughing ring through the wooded campground on a steamy, summer afternoon.

Not an uncommon occurrence at a summer camp – kids laughing.

But it means something entirely different at Camp Farwesta near Stewartsville.

One week each June, the campground hosts Camp Quality Northwest Missouri, a local summer camp for kids with cancer.

This year, Camp Quality will mark its 27th year with a Superheroes theme from June 10 to 15.

A rare camper-turned-companion, Arianne Bredlow has grown up at Camp Quality, a place she calls her second home.

“Normally, some of the kids are very sick and feel down,” the 20-year-old Ravenwood resident said. “But seeing them be able to smile and laugh (at camp) is kind of an overwhelming experience. I think that’s just the neatest thing.”

It’s a week where they can forget about everything wrong with them, she said, and just be themselves.

 

Her camp experience 

Bredlow was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in her right eye when she was only seven months old. She had four operations within the first year of her life, and in one of those, doctors removed her right eye.

She had her last operation in January 1992 and was considered cancer free.

“I have an artificial eye now and that’s basically the only thing I have left of my cancer,” she said.

Her first Camp Quality experience came at the age of five, and after 13 years as a camper, Bredlow said she feels grateful for the camp where kids with cancer can be kids again.

“I got teased a lot and that was a place where everyone’s the same,” she said. “It created a second family for me.”

Her years at Camp Quality also changed her as a person.

“I’m more willing to go out and do things because they’ve said, ‘hey, you’re still a real person, don’t let this affect you, don’t let it bring you down, do what you feel you want to do,’” she said. “It’s helped me grow a lot.”

It can also take an emotional toll on both campers and companions.

“You develop different relationships,” she said. “And sometimes they don’t come back to camp. Sometimes the campers do pass away and that is very hard.”

 

Her volunteer efforts

Bredlow graduated from Camp Quality in 2008 and returned to camp two years later to volunteer as a companion.

“I kind of felt I owed it back to some child who has cancer,” she said, “because I was given so many opportunities and had so many different experiences that I wanted to give that to another kid.”

Camp Quality matches each camper with a volunteer companion. Throughout the entire week, the two spend nearly all of their time together. The companions assist campers with things like arts and crafts, fishing and horseback riding.

They also do other typical summer camp activities like flag raising, singing camp songs and having campfires. They participate in special events, dances and talent shows and are entertained by magicians and hypnotists.

In addition to companions, Camp Quality depends on other volunteers to help out during the week, like cooks, medical staff and the camp’s directors.

“It’s really neat to see how many volunteers give up their time and their jobs for a week,” she said.

The camp also relies on fundraising throughout the year. Many organizations from all over Northwest Missouri donate to the cause.

“Those fundraisers help pay for so many things,” Bredlow said.

Since she understands how important the camp is to the kids, she also helps out with raising money. She assists with the local radio-a-thons held each year, and earlier this spring, she participated in her first 5K which benefitted Camp Quality.

Bredlow will serve as a companion again this summer along with several other volunteers from the Nodaway County area. She said she plans to continue to volunteer and raise money for Camp Quality for as long as she is able.

“I can’t imagine my life without Camp Quality,” she said.

For more information on volunteering or to donate, visit campqualityusa.org/nwmo or call 816.232.2267.

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Some Millennials make the most of YOLO

“That they might have joy” column by Jacki Wood

The results of the study didn’t really surprise me: today’s young people are selfish.

Millennials, or the Me Generation — those born after 1982 — are less interested in community issues, politics and the environment according to the March issue of Journal of Personality and Society Psychology.

Researchers surveyed nine million young adults and concluded they are “less likely to embrace community mindedness and are focusing more on money, image and fame.”

They see little of the world around them and engage in a variety of behaviors that accompany a YOLO (you only live once) attitude, taking risks in something they normally wouldn’t do, regardless of the consequences.

But earlier this month, after attending a Youth Cultural Celebration at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, I was reminded there are many Millennials out there doing good, giving of themselves and moving beyond the borders of this generalization.

The cultural celebration was part of several events leading up to the dedication of the new Mormon temple and included over 3,000 youth ages 12-18 from the greater Kansas City area. They came from as far away as Springfield, Branson and Joplin, Warrensburg, Topeka and Salina, KS, and from right here in Maryville as well.

My 13-year-old son chose to be a part of it, and while many hours were exhausted driving back and forth to rehearsals in Kansas City and practicing songs and dances each week at our local church building, it was truly a blessing for him and for us.

I’m not sure what I expected as we entered the auditorium that evening, but it definitely wasn’t what was presented.

Like I said, over 3,000 youth participated in the event, so just the sheer number of people involved was quite ridiculous. And what I experienced was simply inspiring.

The celebration began with those thousands of youth crammed across the auditorium floor, around the walkways and even up the stairs. They were everywhere. A story of the area’s history accompanied them on the jumbotron throughout the event.

Then smaller groups performed individual pieces. And by smaller, I still mean hundreds of kids singing and dancing together. They shared music and dance from other cultures that were associated with where they came from.

A young Bluegrass band from Branson played alongside dancers from the Olathe, Salina and Topeka areas.

Teens from Kansas City, Liberty and Platte City danced the Charleston (including my son…it was so cute). A smaller subgroup performed “Basketball Rhythm” complete with dribbling basketballs, shooting hoops and even dunks in a very High School Musical-esque performance.

Those from the Springfield area performed a patriotic number as well as George Strait’s hit song, “Heartland.”

Youth from Independence, where there’s a large Polynesian community, performed several island dances (so cool). Kids from Lenexa shared their Hispanic heritage and those from the Warrensburg area did a European medley.

I was surprised that the evening included a little bit of everything including a techno number, a fun children’s song and even Cotton-Eyed Joe.

But the most touching aspect of the night, for me, came when the youth from Joplin took center stage. A year since the devastating tornado hit their community, the youth performed “Rise Up,” a tribute about all of the helping hands who volunteered and assisted in the rebuilding, which continues today.

As I watched these young people literally raise up a building frame there on the auditorium floor, I realized these very teenagers lost their church building, their high school, and probably some even lost their homes and loved ones.

What amazing stories of faith and courage.

And as they paid tribute to those who had flocked from all over the country to help them rebuild their lives, I also realized how many volunteers, both young and old, from Baby Boomers to Millennials, traveled from right here in Nodaway County to selflessly give of themselves.

The crowd gave them a standing ovation, and deservedly so, as tears streamed down their cheeks (and ours) in a very emotional number.

So back to this study… I’m sure the results about Millennials were right on. But I also know there are so many out there who are breaking the status quo.

I love the quote from Elaine Dalton, who said: “Don’t let the low standards and expectations of the world and others cause you to aim beneath your nobility and ability — dream big!”

It’s great to see so many youth changing the “you only live once so enjoy it while you can” definition of YOLO to the “you only live once so make the most of it” YOLO.