The Art and Science of Family Camp

Published on March 24, 2014

Family Camps, both summer weeks and year-round weekends, remain the most popular program at Camp Trillium, and confirming families for camp is both an art and a science. We use previous experiences, composition of the family, ages of children attending and a variety of other factors that also help us in making decisions. We also require a mixture of returning/older families who are able to show new families how to jump into camp. We are incredibly happy that so many families have enjoyed and continue to enjoy our family camp programs, however, due to the rapid increase of family registrations, we have been forced to re-evaluate our prioritization system for accepting families into camp programs.

IMG_1012Each summer, Camp Trillium welcomes approximately 85 brand new families to camp. Between the 2 sites (OuR Island and Rainbow Lake) we are able to accommodate approximately 200 families throughout the summer. Our fall and spring family weekends, however, seem to produce longer waiting lists and have a higher rate of cancellations. This past fall, we had over 120 families apply for 44 fall weekend spots. This means we have unfortunately grown to exceed our current capacity.

Please be aware that we are making every effort to accommodate the majority of family requests and we do not want to deter any family from registering. We are also sensitive to many medical reasons that may require a cancellation. Space is opened up for families on waitlists when we either have more staff and volunteers available, or a family has to cancel. When space opens for a weekend, we proceed to contact families from the waitlist, and will fill the spot (or spots) with the first families to return our call.

Since wait lists have grown, we have received many questions and inquiries into how the big puzzle is put together. We hope that, by providing you with our criteria, you may be able to better understand our process when you receive the letter or phone call that your family is placed on a waiting list.

Families signing up for family programs are prioritized in the following order:

  1. Families “on active treatment” attending camp for the first time
  2. Returning families “on active treatment”
  3. Families “off treatment” attending camp for the first time
  4. Recently bereaved families and/or bereaved families attending camp for the first time
  5. Returning families off treatment or bereaved
  6. Returning off treatment or bereaved families for longer than 10 years

ErnstCamp Trillium’s purpose is to provide support to children with cancer and their families who are directly affected by childhood cancer. It is our goal to ensure that we are providing an environment for the cancer family that will normalize relationships and experiences and in turn help these families in the healing process and hopefully enhance their quality of life.

We are encouraging everyone to apply for camp, but we are hoping that those who are applying for camp have an understanding that sometimes you might just have to wait and wait. We will continue to put efforts to decreasing the waiting and increase the fun at camp!

Marci Shea-Perry is the Executive Director of Camp Trillium.

1 Comment

On March 28, 2014, 8:30 am, Margaret Warden wrote:

Thanks so much for this update re: prioritzing families for camp. I would like to suggest for next year for you to consider switching points 2 &3 in the priority list. I am receommending this because I have met so many new kids in the past year who will be on very intensive treatment protocols for one year or less, so coming to camp while on treatment is not possible for them. The treatment protocols, especially for solids tumors, lymphoma, and some of the brain tumors are so complex, more transplants are being done, and the kids are sicker on treatment. More and more kids do not have the option to attend camp while on treatment.