Within about 12 hours of being at Camp Goodtime, everything started to change, and that week was cathartic, transformative. It was the first time I got to know myself.
While having cancer is incredibly difficult at any age, coping with the disease as a child or young adult can be particularly challenging. Camp Goodtime provides campers between the ages of 7 and 16 who are living with or beyond cancer an opportunity to have a fun-filled camp experience, including canoeing, drama, fine arts and swimming.
Cancer survivor Dave McKeage first attended Camp Goodtime as a teen nearly 30 years ago. “It was the first time I told someone I had cancer,” he says. “I was able to be myself and not feel self-conscious about my treatments or scars. My time at camp gave me perspective, new friends, a community and confidence – even my first kiss. It changed my life.”
All these years later, Dave is still involved with the camp as a volunteer. “I don’t know how anyone could go through what I did, see what I saw and not be empathetic to those going through a similar journey,” he says. “I could not even begin to explain how much it has taught and directed me in life. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities camp hasafforded me.”
In a world where children can be defined by their cancer, Camp Goodtime provides them with an opportunity to be themselves and meet other kids who have gone through similar experiences.
Participants at Camp Goodtimes attend at no cost, thanks to the generosity of Canadians who donate to the Canadian Cancer Society’s fundraising campaigns such as Daffodil Month.
“Camp Goodtime influenced my career choices and what I do for a living, how I see the world, and I even met my wife through camp,” says Dave. “It has impacted almost all facets of my life. I still can remember the lessons, the things I’ve heard at camp. I think about my campers and my friends that are here and that are not here daily, and they are the best friends I’ve ever had. There is a bond between campers and the friendships you make there that is absolutely unique and precious. The Society has changed the lives of hundreds of children, youth and families – mine included.”