Camp Spirit is Shared from Generation to Generation

A snowball fight with REAL snow for a child who was inpatient at the hospital for cancer? That’s the spirit of Camp One Step: making the impossible possible for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.  This is exactly the kind of support, joy, and happiness that is found in campers, volunteers, supporters, and throughout the entire community. It wasn’t surprising, though still amazing, to learn that Camp One Step volunteer Katey Olsen organized a snowball fight for Brooklyn, a ten-year old girl on the inpatient floor at Children’s Wisconsin, where Katey is an oncology nurse. 

Similar to the snowball fight, the joy and happiness experienced at Camp One Step is why Katey encouraged Brooklyn to attend Summer Camp. Brooklyn’s mom, Cara, said, “Without Katey convincing her she would have NEVER agreed to me signing her up!”  But knowing Katey was going to be there, Brooklyn agreed to attend the virtual and in-person Summer Camp held in Williams Bay, WI, and off she went to her first Camp One Step experience in July. “Brooklyn loved everything about camp! She told me all about swimming, the human bowling, s’more making, outdoor movies, the treat truck, and the derby races!” 

This enthusiasm is exactly what Katey experienced in 2004 when she attended Camp One Step as a 7-year-old Standard Camper. Katey shares that she was nervous at first, but after a few days, she was having a blast. “I was swimming, making new friends and creating all the arts and crafts you could think of. I was having the time of my life and I almost forgot to write my parents a letter, the one thing I had to do. Halfway through the week I had the Standard Leaders call my parents. My parents originally thought that I would be so homesick I wanted to come home. But instead, I asked if I could stay the second week as well!” 

Now, seventeen years after Katey first attended camp, she is a pediatric nurse at Children’s Wisconsin. She says, “Camp has helped influence the type of nursing I wanted to do. I knew that I shared a passion in the pediatric oncology population due to my own history, but watching the campers grow up and overcome challenges at camp really solidified my decision. It’s truly amazing when a kiddo comes in thinking they can’t do an activity because of their diagnoses, then camp is able to adapt to their needs and give them that opportunity! Their face lights up and you can see how proud they are of themselves for trying something new!”

Brooklyn is already excitedly talking about going back to camp next year, and that it is giving her something to look forward to. What began this chain of events that led to Katey encouraging Brooklyn to go to camp? “My mom and I were told about camp from my nurse practitioner, Susie! She said I would completely love camp and she was right!” Katey is referring to Susie Burke, who helped care for Katey during her own battle with cancer, and now serves as our Medical Director. 

Susie encouraged her patient, a seven-year-old Katey to attend camp. Now Katey encourages her patients to attend. Is Brooklyn going to tell her friends about it? You bet. Her mom says, “She can’t wait to attend school in the fall for the first time in over a year and a half and share her camp experience with all her friends!

Camp truly is a magical community. Katey shares, “It’s a community of support, encouragement, friends that turn to family, and those who are there to be with you in your hardest moments and lift you up. Not only does camp provide that community but we also give kids the opportunity to feel like kids again and truly not miss out on anything! Camp gives ample opportunity to not miss out on anything in a child’s life that cancer may have taken away from them!” 

Katey as a standard camper

Katey as a counselor in 2018

Katey and Brooklyn at Children’s Wisconsin

Brooklyn

Brooklyn at Summer Camp Virtual 2021

Katey and Brooklyn at in-person Summer Camp 2021