Camp No Worries was founded after experiencing firsthand the physical and emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis.
The History of Camp No Worries, Shared by Kasey Hall-Massa
In 1986, I was like every other 11-year-old adolescent girl, anxiously awaiting school to end and summer to begin. What my family and I didn’t expect was that our summer would begin with new onset seizures, urgent medical appointments, emergency scans, and multi-specialty evaluations all eventually leading to a diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor. Summer plans of independence, vacation at the beach, swimming with friends, riding bikes and water-skiing on the lake, became plans of cutting my long dark hair, shaving it bald and going to surgery to save my life. We were fortunate that the tumor could be resected and my life would return to a new normal. However, the summer of 1986 was not spent as we planned. That summer was spent in the hospital or attending multiple urgent medical appointments. I was left with memories of staff changing the person that I knew. Memories were on the emphasis of everything I could no longer do, everything I was losing. I remember feeling angry, scared and very isolated from my friends as they began looking forward to all of the exciting things they were going to do on their summer break.
Like most children, I thought it would be better to protect my parents from my feelings. I knew they understood how difficult this road was going to be and I could sense the fear that existed each day. I knew they too were grieving the life we once knew. I knew they felt the need to give me time, attention, and understanding, but there were still two other young children at home who needed them too. My brother and sister didn’t understand why they were being sent to stay with family and neighbors and why our plans for a fun summer had ended so abruptly.
Years later, my family and I decided to use what we had learned throughout my diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process to create a summer camp environment for children facing a diagnosis of cancer. Our goal was to build a place where kids could just be kids and do the things that make them happy, the things that make a child feel complete. With the assistance of many family members, friends, co-workers and the community, we were able to establish Camp No Worries in the summer of 1995. Our first year was a small start to say the least. We hosted 14 children overnight for four short days and what a wonderful experience it was. Our hope was to always expand the camping experience to the entire family, so the very next summer, we included both patients and siblings and our numbers jumped to 72 children, overnight, for one full week.
The reality of working with children with cancer is that not all of children survive this deadly disease. Camp No Worries believes if a sibling experiences the loss of his/her brother or sister, he/she should not lose his/her camp experience as well. Therefore, Camp No Worries includes bereaved siblings to experience a week away from cancer, a week of no worries.
Today we are able to accommodate up to 100 children. Camp No Worries runs on a full volunteer staff and at no cost to families. Camp No Worries is a family and will remain forever a part of the lives of the children and families we serve.