On April 24th, 2021 Cancer Care Services hosted our annual AYA Retreat: Camp Gold 2021, at Camp El Tesoro in Granbury, Texas. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the day was, what I like to call simply MAGICAL! We had 20 participants in attendance, and that included their guests. We had two campers, plus their guests, who had to pull out last minute due to not feeling well because of chemo they had that week. Plus 9 volunteers from Cancer Care Services and Rutledge Cancer Foundation. Staff members who joined us were Tori, Tamika, and Kayla, who did an EXCELLENT job leading our group discussion. Everyone enjoyed hiking, canoeing, kayaking, archery, the ropes course, group time, and meditation.
All day, every participant kept thanking us for making this event happen. Throughout the day, participants would express how glad they were to finally connect with fellow AYA’s (Adolescent and Young Adults) because like several of our clients, they spent most of 2020 in isolation and didn’t have the opportunity to meet others going through the same thing. Several participants this year had either just wrapped up treatment, or are still on treatment, currently. They all connected with each other INSTANTLY and absolutely made friendships that will go on past this weekend (at dinner they were passing around a pen and paper to get everyone’s name and number like they were 10 at summer camp! So cute!). If I could describe this weekend in one word, it would be THANKFUL! Thankful for the opportunities that 2021 is bringing us, and for being able to have in-person events again. It was beyond evident that they are needed for our clients to feel a connection with others, now more than ever. Specifically, our AYA’s who crave connection with their peers. This is already a population that gets overlooked, and they definitely felt known, seen, heard, and loved this weekend!