Ooch is a place where magical experiences happen. A place where you can dress up as your favourite superhero or go to lunch in your pajamas. It's a place where you can swing from the sky on a giant swing or swim with the fish in Donner Lake. It's a place where you and your friends sing silly songs like 'ice cream and cake' while making memories that last a lifetime.
Want to know what it will be like? Here are some of the questions other kids have asked.
Q. Who will look after me at Camp?
A. The people who look after you at Camp are called counsellors. The counsellors are amazing people between the ages of 19 and 60 years old. All of them have experience and training working with kids at summer camp and some have even been campers at Camp Ooch. They come to Camp Ooch with one purpose: to help YOU have a great time while you are there. We also have three nurses and one doctor onsite at all times. Many of our doctors and nurses come from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto (so you may already know them) and they hang out and work in the Med Shed.
Q. Where will I sleep?
A. Everyone at Camp sleeps in large residence buildings. You will sleep in a room with other kids who are the same age and in the same cabin group as you. There are separate residences for girls and boys. All of the residences have full washroom facilities with flush toilets, running water and warm showers. Most importantly for those hot days in July - sleeping quarters are kept cool.
Q. What will I eat?
A. A big part of Camp fun includes everyone eating together in the Dining Hall. This community atmosphere provides opportunities to meet other campers and share in silly songs and skits. For breakfast we might have cereal, fruit, pancakes, french toast, or eggs. At lunch we may have sandwiches, soup, salad, grilled cheese or chicken burgers. Dinners can be stir-fry, spaghetti, pizza, salads, chicken and vegetables. Each day we eat something different. If you are allergic to some foods or you are on a special diet, we will make sure that you get the food that is right for you.
Q. Are there other kids at Camp who are sick like me?
A. Camp Oochigeas is a Camp for kids with all types of cancer and for kids at different stages of cancer treatment. Some campers have just been diagnosed and are at the beginning of their treatment and other campers may be part way through or almost finished their treatment. There are some kids who are bald or losing their hair. Other kids may be in a wheelchair or wearing a special kind of brace on their arm or leg because they had surgery. One way or another, all the campers at Camp Ooch know what it is like to have cancer and they know that having cancer can do some strange things to a person’s body. The best part about Camp is that because everyone knows what it is like to have cancer nobody really cares how you look. All that matters is that you are there to have fun.
Q. What will happen if I need treatment while I am at Camp?
A. Lots of campers receive chemo or blood transfusions while at Camp. The nurses and the doctor in the Med Shed know all about taking care of kids with cancer. If you need to visit the Med Shed, one of your counsellors will go with you to help you feel more comfortable. The best part about getting treatment while you are at Camp is that the nurses in the Med Shed make it go as fast as possible so that you can get back to doing the fun stuff.
Q. What activities will I do at Camp?
A. There are many activities for you to participate in. Swimming, Canoeing, Kayaking, Water-Skiing, Arts & Crafts, Drama, Sports, and Rock Climbing. Senior campers (ages 13-14) go on a three-day canoe trip. Intermediate campers (ages 10-12) go on an overnight canoe trip. During the day you will travel around to different activities with your cabin group and your counsellors. You will be given the chance to participate in each activity more than once. We will not make you do anything that you don’t want to do, but we will encourage you to try everything and give your best effort.
Q. What is a normal day like at Camp?
A. Every day is different and full of fun, laughter and activity. Each day begins with an optional Polar Bear Dip (a quick jump in the lake) and breakfast. Cabin groups go to activity stations during the day. After lunch there is a rest hour when you can relax or hang out with friends and there are more activity periods in the afternoon. Each night after dinner there is an evening program. There might be a campfire, a talent show or an adventure game. After evening program, it is time for bed. Campers have different bedtimes according to their age and older campers are often given free time or have an extra activity planned for later in the evening.
Q. What happens if I miss home?
A. Missing home is okay and is not something that campers should feel bad about. Most of the counsellors at Camp Ooch went to camp when they were kids and they understand what it is like to miss home. Missing home doesn’t feel good but it is natural. If you find you are missing home the best thing to do is tell a counsellor how you are feeling.
Q. How can I stay in touch with my family?
A. The best way for you to stay in touch with your family while you are at Camp is to write a letter home. Campers are not allowed to use the phone while at Camp. Your family can send you letters, faxes and emails while at Camp and they will be delivered to you on the day that we receive them.
Q. Can my parents visit me while I am there?
A. No. Camp is a chance for you to be independent. Parents are welcome to drop their campers off at the beginning of the week and pick them up at the end of Camp but they are not allowed to visit during session.
Q. Is Camp just for little kids?
A. No. There are many opportunities for young adults at Camp. Consider a three-day canoe trip or a leadership position helping younger campers accomplish their goals. Camp offers teenagers the chance to meet other people who are living with cancer. It is a place where you can share ideas, be a support for one another, and make meaningful friendships that last a lifetime. For young adults Camp is about challenging yourself to push beyond your personal limits and discover your true capabilities. It is also a chance to relax, hang out with friends and just be yourself.
Q. How long is Camp?
A. Residential Summer Camp is two weeks long. For some younger campers two weeks may seem like a really long time, so it is possible for you to try Camp out for one week and if you like it you can decide to stay for the second week.
Q. Can I come and visit Camp before I go there as a camper?
A. Of course, we would love to have you visit Camp before you decide to come for a full session. You can come to one of our Weekends At Camp (WACs) in the fall or winter, or you can visit us throughout the summer. All you need to do is call us to let us know when you are coming.
Q. Why should I come to Camp?
A. Camp is an amazing place! Whether you prefer climbing the rock wall, swimming in the lake or working on a project in arts and crafts, you will find something at Camp that you enjoy doing. Camp is also a great place to make new friends. Our committed counsellors will encourage you to participate in many activities and express your creativity. You should come to Camp Ooch because the fun, friendships and experience will change your life!
Q. What if I don’t make any friends?
A. Don’t worry, you will! Everyone gets along at Camp and has a great time together. You will interact with kids from other cabins as well as your own, and because everyone at Camp is, or was, in the same situation as you, they understand what you’re feeling and help to make your stay at Camp Ooch a wonderful experience.