Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roundup River Ranch Reunion

A while back I was asked to photograph the Roundup River Ranch Reunion. A WONDERFUL camp founded by Paul Newman. It is a camp for kids with serious and life threatening illnesses. And yes, that includes my son. Due to privacy reasons I'm unable to show any photos that can identify any of the past campers except my son, but my son had a great time! He even got to revisit his favorite game at camp, GIANT JENGA!

One year ago, when Ryan was undergoing chemo to try and reduce the size of his brain tumors, he was asked to attend the camp for cancer patients. No, Ryan doesn't have cancer, but NF2 presents itself a lot like cancer and our team at Children's are all oncology specialists.

To put it mildly.....he didn't want to go. We insisted. He whined, and pouted, and at one time refused. Why? He had thoughts of boy scout camp where hikes and sleeping in tents aggravated his scoliosis and spine tumors. Where doing chores, cooking, and cleaning, were too much for him after he was wiped out from a full day of activities and dealing with the pain of his multiple tumors.  Where he just felt different because he couldn't succeed at the things that other boys could because of his limited eyesight (again because of tumors).

Don't get me wrong. He loved boys scouts, but it was just too hard. Hard on his body and his self confidence. BUT,  Roundup river Ranch was different! More like a resort than a camp, the kids sleep in cabins with comfy beds. The cafeteria provides food much better than mom makes AND does the clean up! And the kids......many have ports for chemo, like Ryan. Many tire easily, like Ryan. Many of them see the same doctors and nurses that Ryan sees and loves (some were even there as counselors). And, many have the same interests and struggles as Ryan.

In fact,  Ryan developed a new love of a sport at camp. Archery! He had experienced archery at boy scout camp, but not with a compound bow. A compound bow made all the difference for Ryan. Not only that, after a week of gentle encouragement from a wonderful staff, he made it to the top of the climbing wall! Quite a feat for a boy with no depth perception and a fear of heights! He came back glowing with pride and accomplishment.

I sent a boy to camp fighting tears because he didn't want to go. Much to my joy, they returned to me a boy full of smiles, stories, and anticipation to go again!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all the staff and counselors at Roundup River Ranch and at Children's Hospital. You make life for a child with a serious, life threatening illness a little bit happier and easier.  Glad I could give back in a small, small way by photographing the reunion! Ryan seriously can't wait to go again this summer.!

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