Participants in Tour For Kids – Ontario, raise awareness and funding for extraordinary camp organizations that help children, adolescents and their families live with, and beyond, cancer. None of the camps receive government funding so they rely on private contributions to sustain their good work. Thanks to the pledges collected by Tour for Kids cyclists each year over $1.5 million is shared by the Ontario camps. Without our collective support, the camps programs would be severely compromised or discontinued. Each camp operates multiple locations staffed by health care professionals, volunteers and camp alumni. Thousands of children attend year-round programs that build confidence, courage and friendships in an environment rich with empathy and compassion – as well as measures of medical attention.
The single greatest miracle that these retreats provide is enabling children to escape the shadows of cancer treatment. It’s a time to enjoy the pleasures of being a regular kid. Children all too familiar with the rigors of doctor appointments, blood tests and arduous cancer treatments are welcomed to a world of sunshine, fresh air and fun. Activities are adaptive and inclusive so campers of all physical and mental abilities can participate. “The amazing thing about Camp is seeing kids who were in the hospital, sick and weak days before, now climbing rock walls, canoeing, laughing — and forgetting why they were in the hospital at all.” Quite simply, camp is the good medicine for the spirit.
“Camp Trillium transformed my family. There is a certain magic you feel as soon as you drive through the gates and see the staff dressed in costume, you know their only job is to be there for you. It’s a place of healing, friendships and tremendous support. We didn’t know how to sort through the childhood cancer maze, so many feelings and emotions arise as soon as you find out your child is sick. My family and my heart felt broken. Then we found Camp Trillium, and the smiles and memories we have made will be there forever.”
Camp Trillium is a great place to start, or a wonderful place to return to for some time away from your “cancer routine”. Patients and siblings alike can take part in whichever activities suit him for that day. They can hike around the lake or do the ropes course on an energy-filled day, or choose to spend some time doing crafts on tired days. The best part is they can focus on having fun with everyone here at camp, at their own pace. Camp Trillium’s name stems from a couple sources. One being that Camp Trillium is a provincial organization and the other is that the trillium is a “tri”. Involving the parents, the patients and the family. That’s what Camp Trillium is all about.
We’ve developed many traditions over the years here at Camp Trillium. We’ve learned from many of our campers so many ways to have fun, make friends and to challenge ourselves. One of the oldest traditions is our evening campfire. Costumes appear, songs are sung, skits are performed. Another tradition we have is the No More Chemo Cake. When a camper is finished chemo, staff, volunteers and Barrie the Bear dance around the dining hall and present the cake to the happy camper and his family. The whole camp comes together to celebrate this milestone of becoming a survivor.
Camp Trillium started back in 1984 as a travelling camp and now we have 2 sites. Rainbow Lake in Southwestern Ontario and Our Island in Eastern Ontario. These camps are located in different areas in order to give the kids throughout Ontario the chance to go to camp and experience all that we have to offer them. The sites are both located within an hour of a children’s hospital to ensure all children and patients have doctors close by if needed.
“Ooch is there when we need it most, it’s a place where we can grow, love and learn. Ooch is a place where we can express ourselves and not be judged or feel like we aren’t good enough. Ooch is there when we need a shoulder to lean on and where friends stay in our hearts forever. Ooch is not just a camp but a home.”
Camp Oochigeas (Ooch) is a privately funded, volunteer-based organization that provides kids with cancer and kids affected by childhood cancer with unique opportunities for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences. Ooch offers year-round programs for children and families affected by childhood cancer at sites in Muskoka, at
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and at Ooch Downtown, an urban
camp facility in the heart of Toronto and various other paediatric centres in Ontario. Through these programs, Camp Ooch reaches over 1,500 children each year at no cost to their families. Building programs to meet the ever-changing landscape of paediatric healthcare, this is all made possible by the generous support of donors and volunteers. Camp Ooch provides life-changing experiences and memories that last a life-time. With an increased demand for services across Ontario, Ooch gives kids with cancer what they need most – the chance to be kids.
Often referred to as the social cure for cancer, Camp Ooch can often meet kids and their families on the same day a child is diagnosed with cancer. By getting to know and trust Ooch through the In-Hospital program, families are also encouraged to register for programs outside the hospital, giving them access to a year-round support network which can last for years after hospital stays end.
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“Before Camp Quality, I was self conscious with my scars left by chemotherapy because it made me different. But now I have found a place that I can be comfortable
with myself because I have found people who understand my scars. With this understanding, I am able to be more confident about my differences because Camp
Quality has shown me that I am a stronger person because of it.”
Cancer can be a frightening and alienating experience for families. That’s why kids affected by cancer are welcomed and encouraged to grow through CQ’s empowering, volunteer driven community programs. Our year-round programming and free camps give kids the power to turn life’s challenges into adventures. While CQ is well known for its camps across Canada, now in operation in Southern Ontario for 30 years, we also have an excellent self-directed adventure program for young adults, as well as a touring puppet troupe that provides outreach and education for elementary students.
CQ camps generate local support communities so that families affected by childhood cancer can find joy and share their experiences in a fun and optimistic environment. At CQ, kids can be kids. CQ is committed to supporting each family as they face their own unique journey with childhood cancer. By delivering meaningful social, recreational, and educational programming for kids, parents, and the community, Camp Quality doesn’t just support kids, but their friends and families as well.
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