On this date, October 29, 2020 (just before Halloween), I declare that I: (1) write poetry and non-fiction, (2) do copywriting and copy editing and (3) translate from Spanish to English. I have now become fluent in these kinds of work.
BALD GIRL DANCING
The image in my mind from a trip to Camp Fantastic is of cancer patients dancing. For a week each year, this camp comes alive at a 4-H site near Front Royal, Virginia. In 2016, 103 children, aged 7-17, gathered to play like other children. No one tried to hide the effects of disease or of treatment for it.
There were many counselors, most of them survivors who had been campers in the 33 years since Camp Fantastic began. It was started by a couple who lost their daughter to cancer. The counselors were radiant with the joy of helping children to follow in their footsteps.
The Director of Pediatric Oncology at the National Institutes of Health serves as chief medical officer at the camp. Every year, he spends the whole week there with other NIH staff members. Every day before dinner, each camper reports to the medical tent to receive any medications he or she is taking. Chemotherapy is given on site, and a helicopter is available in case of an emergency.
Otherwise, it is a normal camp with swimming, crafts, games, etc.
Every evening at Camp Fantastic, a different organization hosts a big dinner party. In 2016 the first host was the Rotary Club of Olney, Maryland, aided by the Gaithersburg and Rockville Clubs and the Rock Creek Church. These volunteers loaded a full-size bus with everything for serving dinner to more than 200 kids and adults. There was even a large fan to expel the smoke from grilling dozens of hot dogs and burgers. Veggie burgers were available too, of course, and there were toys for the kids, face painting, a super magician named Sly, and singer/guitarists Stephanie and Dave.
As the stragglers continued eating, the musicians invited campers and counselors to sing and dance. There was a bald girl dancing, and others were having fun watching.
When someone picked up a microphone, the kids and staff members went through a routine that was boisterous but ended in silence, so the speaker could be heard. Around 7:00 p.m., the staff called all, from the youngest to the oldest, to form a large circle. Called by room number, the counselors and kids who were rooming together came out skipping, if they could skip, and waving to an enthusiastic crowd. A few, with cruches or in wheel chairs, just blended in.
Soon the Rotarians slipped away, tired but happy, while activities continued until bedtime ended the first day of camp.
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