Stefani’s Story

A place to call home

Thank you Stefani for sharing your journey to Camp Ooch and the impact Ooch has had on your life.

Stefanie and friend embracing one another and smiling inside Gatts' Lodge

I was first introduced to Camp Ooch when I was first diagnosed with Cancer in 2014. It was a very hard time for both myself and my family but Camp Ooch made it 10 times easier. The people there supported me, helped me through tough times and made me feel at home.

Ooch is a place for kids to be themselves and to forget the battles they are having to face every day. It’s a place where kids feel joy and happiness and experience things they never have.

When I was introduced to Camp Ooch I didn’t want to go because I was scared to be in an unfamiliar environment with other kids. I didn’t really understand exactly what the Camp was, so I thought I was still going to be different. I was also worried to open myself up about my cancer journey and I thought I would have to talk about what happened to me in the past. I didn’t know what to expect or what I would be doing so I shut down the idea. Two years later they told me about it again and I was more open-minded, so I decided to go. That was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life.

 

Discovering what I am capable of

My first time at Camp was better than I imagined. I had so much fun and met the most amazing people. I did so many new things like waterskiing, ropes courses, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and camping trips. I never thought that I would experience those things until I went to Camp Ooch. Ooch is also very accommodating with each one of the Campers so I was never pushed to do anything I didn’t want to. I was only encouraged to try new things. Because of the encouragement I received, I did things I wouldn’t have thought I could achieve. That is another reason why I love Camp. The Campers, as well as the Counsellors made me believe in myself and helped me to realize the things I am capable of. There were moments where I felt discouraged and I had the support to get me through it.

 

Just being me

The first time I went to Camp I wore a wig. I always would wear it in public because I was never comfortable with people seeing me without it. On the bus ride there, I didn’t think anyone knew that I had one. When we got there it was hot, so I wanted to take off the wig and the girls who were in my cabin recognized that. Even before I took it off they told me that that was okay because we were in a place where it was normal and where people wouldn’t look at me like I was different.

I remember feeling warm and happy and once I took the wig off and went outside I truly felt like I was myself again. I was finally done with hiding and feeling like the “different one”. Ooch was the first place where I could be all of myself.

Camp Ooch is honestly one of the best places on Earth. Without it, there wouldn’t be a place where kids can just be kids and not be constantly reminded that they are different, because they aren’t. Camp Ooch has affected me in many ways. It gave me friendships that will last a very long time. It gave me a place where I could be myself. It gave me an outlet to not feel different, and most importantly, it gave me another place to call home.

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Share your story

If you would like to share your Ooch story with us, please contact:

Stephanie Highfield

Senior Development Officer