Holly Lanzetta’s 6-year-old son Sam has cancer. As a single parent of two young boys, the Southold mother has long struggled to care for her sons — including providing the medical care Sam has needed throughout the years. Ms. Lanzetta has also had to find a balance that allows her to pay her bills while working between her son’s treatments to maintain as normal a life as possible for her family.
It’s what brought her to Camp Adventure when her older son, Troy, became involved with the program. But what she found was so much more than just a week-long camp for kids with cancer and their siblings.
“It’s truly a family motivational environment,” Ms. Lanzetta said.
Kids Need MoRE, the parent foundation behind Camp Adventure, is a family of caring adults and children who are there for one another throughout the year.
“Children just need a chance to enjoy other people” and be normal, not simply be identified as sick kids with cancer, Ms. Lanzetta said.
In the time he first spent in the hospital, she explained that Sam shied away from other pediatric cancer patients. He didn’t want to be a sick child, but simply wanted to be a child who blended into groups of other children — those who weren’t suffering from cancer.
Similarly, Troy didn’t want to be identified as the sibling of a brother with cancer, but to just be considered ordinary.
That is, after all, what most children crave as they struggle to fit in during their adolescent years.
But as Sam and Troy got to know children with cancer through the Camp Adventure program and to interact with them in various activities throughout the year, they found themselves fitting in just fine with a group of friends who have provided them the normalcy they sought.
Along the way, Ms. Lanzetta found a supportive group of parents going through the same thing who help them all through their individual struggles and lift their spirits on days when they’re down.
It’s why Ms. Lanzetta welcomed the opportunity to come to last Saturday’s Kids Need MoRE thank you party at the American Legion Hall to express her gratefulness to Islanders who have supported Camp Adventure in so many ways through the years.
It was a relaxed atmosphere with lunch catered by Michelle Beckwith and Susan Denton and a number of EMTs, firefighters and other community members on hand.
“You’ve got to give back to your community, Steve Lenox said about his volunteer work with Camp Adventure activities each August. He’s a long-time volunteer firefighter.
The firefighters show up each August to hose down campers following the annual shaving cream fight at Camp Quinipet which hosts Camp Adventure each summer. And he’s one of many who helps with the annual Camp Adventure Barbecue.
Phyllis Power and her husband Phil were on hand Saturday as well. He’s a volunteer firefighter and an EMT, while she’s an auxiliary member who annually bakes cookies for the camp’s summer prom.
“I just like to bake,” Ms. Power said, explaining she doesn’t have kids at home to bake for and doesn’t want to eat all the baked goods herself.
“What these kids are going through” is what motivates Pat Lenox to want to help.
Others said they got back more than they give by having the opportunity to interact with the Camp Adventure kids and staff.
This party was the first of what the Kids Need MoRE organizers say will become an annual event to thank Islanders who have given so much to the Camp Adventure family, said Melissa Firmes-Ray, camp codirector and head of the Kids Need MoRE executive board which raises the money necessary to keep the camp and other programs going.
But Saturday wasn’t about raising money. It was simply a chance to meet those involved in all facets of the program and provide the time to get to know them in an informal and non-hectic moment, Ms. Firmes-Ray said.
If the turnout was relatively small on a rainy Saturday, Ms. Firmes-Ray was optimistic that the thank you parties will grow in number in future years.
She notes that the Campsgiving event held at Camp Quinipet on Thanksgiving weekend each year started with only 20 people and grew considerably the second year. This November, she’s expecting about 100 to participate in Campsgiving.
Anyone not familiar with Kids Need MoRE can visit the group’s website at kidsneedmore.org.