Camp Living Springs is a one-of-a-kind community outreach program that provides adult cancer survivors a totally free, fun-filled weekend. Their mission is to promote camaraderie, relaxation, and shared experiences while nurturing the spirit of those touched by cancer. The Camp is totally funded by the Morton Plant Hospital Auxiliary. The staff is also made up of Auxiliary volunteers, nurses, counselors, and massage therapists who donate all of their time.
Cancer camps for children are common; however, there is very little available for adult survivors outside of support groups. Though adults have the same needs to escape from the constant thoughts about their disease also. Camp Living Springs is one of two adult camps in Florida. The idea originated with a support group who wanted to do something innovative for the adults not related to their disease. The first year’s pilot was funded with granted monies from the Morton Plant Mease Foundation, and it was a huge success. The Morton Plant Auxiliary was then approached as a permanent sponsor to organize, fund, and staff future camps.
The 800 plus members of the Morton Plant Auxiliary accepted the challenge and have now successfully planned two camping experiences. The camp is help at a 100-acre retreat facility surrounded by a lake. The participants are housed in cabins and dorms during their stay. Before the campers arrive, committees meet regularly for seven months to plan a variety of activities. The campers are then able to participate in caricatures, themed dances, massages, line dancing lessons, arts and crafts, nature walks, and other events. For those who want to enjoy the atmosphere and tranquility, there are numerous rocking chairs on the large porch overlooking the lake. This camp concept is presented on local, state, and national levels; and the Morton Plant Auxiliary hopes to be and inspiration and pilot for organization across the nation.
Camp Living Springs’ achievements are best explained through comments from campers and their volunteer buddies. Both believe the experience is unique and very hard to put into works. They believe it gives you a chance to just “live” and not worry about being knows as a bone cancer patient, lung cancer patient, etc. The camp gives people who are living with cancer a chance to take a break from their disease. They are able to fellowship with others who have the same concerns and challenges. Many are able to share experiences, encourage each other, and just meet new friends. The Camp has been quite a success. During the first year, there were 21 campers. The Camp grew to 49 by the second year, and they had 60 campers last year.
Tim McMahon, Director of Oncology Services at Morton Plant Mease Health Care applauds Camp Living Springs. He believes it gives cancer patients a place to just be themselves,” they can let their hair down and remove their wigs.” He feels the Camp gives them the courage to embrace their survivorship as opposed to being overcome with fear.