Youth Rally Camp – An Experience of a Lifetime
At the beginning of camp, T.M. would only wear loose, long sleeved shirts and baggy pants, no matter how hot it was outside; R.S. had always made excuses about why she could not join sleepovers with her friends; and B.H. would only dream about going on a date. By the end of camp, these three campers felt part of a community and socially at ease within it. T.M. was in T-shirts and shorts; R.S. had now done sleepovers with her new friends, and B.H. was ready to go home and date. These are only a few examples of the impact you will have on the lifelong changes that occur at camp and the memories that are created. Some kids who attend may have never been away from home before, never been with other kids who had ostomies, never played games with other kids in wheelchairs, and never felt like just another kid in the crowd. Camp provides them with so many positive experiences and you can be part of enriching their lives by volunteering to attend.
I, like some of you, had mixed emotions and trepidation when I signed up to be a WOC nurse at Youth Rally camp in 2008. I had never done pediatric nursing and I had only cared for adults as a WOC nurse, plus camp was in San Diego, across the country. I did not know anyone who was going or who had done this before. I knew the general information, i.e. that Youth Rally was a one week camp “to provide an environment for adolescents living with conditions of the bowel and bladder that encourages self-confidence and independent living.” Once at camp, I quickly realized that I was never alone and if health care challenges arose, it was a team effort where we always supported and learned from one another. Not only was there expertise among the health care volunteers, but also among the counselors (many who had been campers themselves), and many of the current campers. Physical, psychological, and social care was skillfully provided.
I imagined camp would be an experience of a lifetime for the campers, but I never realized it would also be one for me. Even now, thinking back to the self-confidence the kids gained and the friendships that they formed makes me smile. The trips to the beach and going in the water that was a first for many, roller skating even while in a wheelchair, educational sessions, chat time where issues of dating and clothing were typical topics, talent shows, camp fires, and many other fun experiences filled the days. The dance on the last night of camp was filled with hugs and tears…we had all grown, learned and been part of a very special community of people. The time shared and the lessons learned will be built upon and remain in our hearts forever.
Ilene Fleischer MS, RN, CWOCN
For over 40 years the New England Region of Wound Ostomy and Continence nurses have sponsored/supported adolescents between the ages of 11-17 years of age who are living with conditions of the bowel and bladder. These youths have ostomies; inflammatory bowel disease, or urinary or fecal incontinence. Usually the campers participate in a five night one of a kind experience called Youth Rally. The camp is held at various university campuses throughout the United States in July; San Diego, Colorado, or Washington.
As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of all meetings and gatherings. Youth Rally is no different. Even though the way we gather has changed, the gathering still occured, virtually. That is the best we can do for now. Youth Rally still needs our support. We are looking at different ways to hold our auction. The goals are to have the children return to camp, and allow them to continue the life enriching experience of being with other children with diversions and similar health conditions. They will need funding to achieve these goals.
Update: Fall 2021 in person conference was a success! Funds for Youth Rally exceeded $6,000!
This year, we ask for your continued support and we ask you to please consider making a donation directly to YOUTH RALLY through the YOUTH RALLY website HERE
A special thank you to Marian Barry-Ravagni and Donna Golden for their relentless work for Youth Rally over the last several years. Best wishes to the New Youth Rally co-chairs, Leah Abecassis and Jennifer Giannettino.
Did you know???
You can support Youth Rally whenever you shop on Amazon through Amazon Smile!
How do I shop with AmazonSmile?
To use AmazonSmile, simply go to smile.amazon.com on your web browser or activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app on your iOS or Android phone within the Settings or Programs & Features menu. On your web browser, you can add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping with AmazonSmile.
How do I select Youth Rally on AmazonSmile?
On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization to receive donations from your future eligible AmazonSmile purchases. Amazon will remember your selected charity whenever you shop at smile.amazon.com or with AmazonSmile activated in the Amazon Shopping app, and then every eligible purchase you make through AmazonSmile will result in a donation for Youth Rally.