"In many ways, camp saved my life..."

Coral (left) with camper Ellen, smiling after allowing the other campers to decorate their costumes with paint-filled balloons

Coral (left) with camper Ellen, smiling after allowing the other campers to decorate their costumes with paint-filled balloons

This year marked our first-ever week of camp, which many of our friends and family know was structured after a similar camp in San Diego, California - Camp Reach For The Sky (CR4TS) - run by The Seany Foundation. Several of our founding volunteers are long-time CR4TS volunteers, who identified the need to bring a camp like this to Massachusetts in 2014. A defining factor of CR4TS is its ability to bring campers together in a safe, supportive environment, where everyone is accepted for who they are and bullying is never an option. This is absolutely essential to provide the inclusive and transformative experience that Camp Casco is meant to be. To this end, it was important to us to include in our first session two campers who were familiar with the CR4TS culture, to help us set the perfect tone for the week.

Coral Avery "graduated" from CR4TS earlier this summer after 14 years as a camper, before joining us in Massachusetts to attend Camp Casco. Below, she explains why camp is so important to her, and describes her experience with us:

Growing up with cancer changed my feeling of hospitals immensely, but every summer, I was able to bond with other children in the same situation as I was. In many ways, camp saved my life and I could never put a price tag on the experiences I’ve had. And this summer, I was fortunate enough to be invited to bring the California CR4TS spirit to an all new place: Camp Casco.

After graduating Camp Reach for the Sky (CR4TS) in California, I was ecstatic to be a part of this entirely new camp and community. Over the course of the week, every single camper and counselor had bonded with one another over fun activities, crafts, and meals. From the rock wall to campfires and “lights out lunch” to team bonding, we all shared about our lives with cancer and learned from one another.

While walking over to play Gaga [Israeli dodgeball] one day, one of the other campers asked me why the founder had named it Camp “Casco”. I told him that Casco meant Hulk and he responded, “I get it, they call it Hulk because we are strong, we beat cancer”. Although that’s not the whole story, it amazes me how inspiring the campers are despite the immense difficulties they are facing back home. They remind me so much of when I went through treatment and also embody the entirety of my fourteen years as a camper in California, which is why I am now dedicated to Casco and ensuring that these kids have a fun and stress-free week.

I definitely recommend Camp Casco for every child going with cancer as well as long term survivors such as myself. Here, kids don’t just escape from life with cancer, but learn to thrive despite how it alters their lives. In the future, I hope that these campers will continue to be a part of our camp family and greet the many new faces of energetic children who come for a week of summer fun.
— Coral Avery
Coral (left) canoeing with camper Ellen and volunteer Lara "Aqua" Gechijian

Coral (left) canoeing with camper Ellen and volunteer Lara "Aqua" Gechijian

A huge thanks to Coral for being a part of our inaugural week and for sharing her love of camp with us - we can't wait to see what an incredible camp counselor she will be in the future!