Organizers of Camp Adventure and its parent organization, KiDS NEED MoRE, are turning the tables on Islanders.
The organizations are reaching out to say “thank you” to the many individuals and groups who have made it possible to support pediatric cancer patients and their siblings who have found respites from their illnesses here for the past several years.
On Saturday, October 14, between noon and 4 p.m. the organizers have scheduled an event at the American Legion to thank the many Islanders who have supported Camp Adventure and its other programs and to meet the community to share the excitement of future plans for the KiDS NEED MoRE family.
There is no cost and this is not a fund raising event, but simply a chance “to sincerely thank everyone” and let people see what they have supported, said KiDS NEED MoRE President Melissa Firmes-Ray.
She and Secretary Jackie Lorenz have been planning the event for several months, spurred on by the continued welcome Camp Adventure and Campsgiving programs have received during their outings at Camp Quinipet.
The organization has also returned to the Island for the past two years to field a team in the annual 10K Run/Walk.
As programs expand, the staff wants to offer more activities on Shelter Island for kids with cancer and their siblings, Ms. Firmes-Ray said.
There are those on the Island familiar with the efforts of Fire Department members to sponsor a barbecue for the Camp Adventure family and to “hose down” the campers and staff following their annual shaving cream battle.
Shelter Island Police and Ambulance Service workers have also assisted and Fire Department Auxiliary members have baked up a storm for the camp’s prom each summer. Father Peter DeSanctis is also a regular, working the grill at the barbecue.
Other Islanders have opened their homes to house staff or the occasional camper too ill to stay at Quinipet overnight.
Volunteers have offered time to teach yoga, meditation, dance and other activities for the campers.
For those unfamiliar with KiDS NEED MoRE and the Camp Adventure program, it was originally an outgrowth of the American Cancer Society that ran into financial problems a few years ago. To cut its costs, it had to eliminate some programs, Camp Adventure among them.
Volunteers formed a 501 (c)3 tax deductible operation, and began raising own funds to keep the program afloat. Programs extend to families throughout the tri-state area; the organization has linked up with Patient Airlift Services, or PALS, that involves volunteer pilots flying some campers to the East End to participate in programs here.
Ms. Firmes-Ray, the spark behind the program, found herself on the patient end three years ago with a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.
Not surprisingly, it was the KiDS NEED MoRE family that supported her through a harrowing but life-saving stem cell transplant and subsequent battle during her recovery.
“I’m not special because I do the work that I do,” she said at the time about her diagnosis. While her experience with Camp Adventure couldn’t prepare her for her diagnosis, it helped to be surrounded by the program who smothered her with love, she said.
“It’s so good that they wanted to be there for me,” she said.
Now that the Camp Adventure program is history for this year, the group can pause to say a big “thank you” to the community it knows will be supportive in the future.
If you would like to attend — everyone is welcome — call (631) 608 3135 or email [email protected]needmore.org.