Forever Indebted…A Tribute to our Founder, Dr. Edward Baum
by Susie Burke, Medical Director, Camp One Step

My personal story with Dr. Baum started in 1983 when I was a young staff nurse working on the School Age/Adolescent Unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I loved working with children but considered myself relatively novice in my role as a pediatric nurse. I gravitated towards the kids with cancer, wanting to learn as much as I could about childhood cancer, it’s treatment, as well as the impact of cancer on the child and their family – so I decided to volunteer at a summer camp for kids with cancer. At that time, camps for kids with cancer were early on in their evolution, and the closest one to me was based out of Chicago, run by a physician by the name of Dr. Edward Baum. Actually, it was the only camp for kids with cancer in the entire Midwest and only one of a few in the United States. So pulling out my typewriter, I composed a letter to Dr. Baum, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at the former Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago (now Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital), and also founder of Camp One Step at a Time. And that was the start of our journey together……
Dr. Baum had a dream – and one of those dreams was to give kids with cancer the opportunity to just be kids – to have fun, laugh and play, do normal kid stuff, and to forget about the hospital and treatments for just a short period of time. He always dreamed big and one of those dreams became a reality with the founding of Camp One Step at a Time. He laid the foundation for camp and provided all of the building blocks for generations to come – today his legacy lives on in the many programs that grew out of his inspiration, and through the many campers and volunteers that have benefitted from his work.

When I think about how best to describe Dr. Baum, some words immediately come to mind – trailblazer, visionary, brilliant, creative, supportive, esteemed, and trusted. He was a man who was held in such high regard by so many people. He was a forward thinker, continually looking for new opportunities that would improve the lives of children with cancer and their families. He truly valued and upheld the concept of family centered care, long before it was considered a core standard in pediatrics. He was a soft-spoken man but when he spoke, people stopped and listened.
Dr. Baum was a role model and through his actions, he challenged each and every one of us to be the best version of ourselves. He had a special way of bringing out the best in people, whether it was a very shy, homesick camper wanting to go home or a new counselor just getting their feet wet. He helped them believe in themselves by always believing in them. Those gentle taps on the shoulder or those rides in the golf cart – those were often the times when his new ideas would unfold and you knew that he wanted you to help make it happen. You never knew when a phone call might come from Dr. Baum asking you to take on a new responsibility, often saying “Don’t worry, I have the first few days figured out – we can talk about the rest when you get here.” He trusted you to go forward, but was always there for you when needed. He didn’t solve the problem for you but instead supported you through your problem-solving – as a result, he developed a lot of very resilient people.

Over the past several days, I have had a chance to look at my “camp memorabilia” from the 1980’s. Many of the traditions, steeped in history, continue today at camp – the camp song, time at the waterfront, Excursion’s trip to the Dells, the beloved Abbey Boat Day, our closing banquet with camper speakers, camper awards, and Sr. Erna’s bird walk, to name a few. As I looked through photobooks specifically searching for photos of Dr. Baum, only a few could be found. He was even missing in my All Camp photos. So I thought about that and realized that the explanation was really quite simple. Camp was never about Dr. Baum, who he was or what he did – he always made sure that the focus was on the kids – and I believe that is a tradition that lives on today. One Step at a Time’s our goal & One Step at a Time is our philosophy.

Many years have passed since I have had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Baum but the memories of our time together and his wisdom will remain with me forever. I truly believe that I am here today, the Medical Director at Camp One Step, because of him. He took a chance on me when he opened that letter in 1983, just like he has so many times with so many others. I consider myself one of the “lucky ones” because our paths crossed, and his friendship a true blessing – I know that there are so many more who feel the same way that I do. We are forever grateful to him for his vision, guidance, inspiration and friendship, and strive every day to continue the work that he started, taking it one step at a time. I believe that Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best with these words, “Do not go where the path may lead. But go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
We will miss you, dear friend, but the imprint that you made on our hearts will live forever!

Winter Camp Virtual…coming to a computer near you!

 

As the weather starts to take a turn toward the colder parts of the year, the Camp One Step community is ready for something to warm their spirits.  Look no further; Winter Camp Virtual is coming to you December 28 through the morning of December 31!  Break out the hot chocolate, get your cozy clothes on, and get ready to spend an amazing three full days with your Camp family.

Keeping traditions active is one of the many goals for Winter Camp Virtual, as well as tying in some new ideas brought directly to campers’ homes.  Everyone’s favorite care packages will travel through snow, slush, and whatever other weather may present itself to ensure that the fun must go on.  A dance, a talent show, and even Camp Central are all currently in the works for the upcoming program, so warm up those vocal cords and shake out those dancing muscles because December is just around the corner!

The dedicated Winter Camp Admin team is planning another engaging program for campers and staff alike, accessible to those near and far.  The continued success of Camp One Step’s virtual programs would not be possible without the time, energy, planning, and passion of the outstanding volunteers and program leadership, so be prepared to see all of that hard work come to life during the program.  Program Director Mark Lowry is excited that the program is being offered virtually to reach as many campers as possible and says, “I can’t wait for Winter Camp Virtual!  The hot cocoa, snowball fights, gingerbread houses…and that’s just the beginning of what we have planned for you!  Join us, and stay warm, for Winter Camp 2020.”  If you or someone you know will need a loanable iPad from the Camp One Step Technology Fund to enjoy Winter Camp Virtual, please email Darryl (dperkins@camponestep.org).

Who will join from different states around the country?  Who will join from different countries around the world?  Will the famous Summer Camp Virtual weather forecasts continue to keep campers and staff prepared in all regions?  Find out soon when you join for Winter Camp Virtual.  Applications are now closed.

Dude Ranch Program and Family Camp 2020 go Virtual!

Camp One Step is proud to announce that we will continue to deliver fun, creative, and exceptional camp programs this fall through our Dude Ranch Program and Family Camp. For the safety and well-being of our community, we will host both of these free programs virtually, and will continue to build on the lessons learned from programs already held this spring and summer. Nothing can stop our commitment to the children and families we serve in providing happiness, support and community through the magic of camp!
For any camper (ages 11-16) who wants to learn more about horses, living on a ranch, caring for animals and horsemanship, Dude Ranch Virtual being held September 25-27 is the program for you! Not only will you enjoy indoor and outdoor activities, virtual parties, and arts and crafts such as making a fleece tie blanket, but take part in zoom calls with other campers to enjoy online activities with fall themes. Our amazing Volunteer Co-Leaders Kris Riley and Mark Peterson want campers to know two things. As Kris said recently “since we can’t go to the ranch this year, we are going to bring the sights and sounds to your home. Did we mention without that down on the farm smell”. Uncle Mark shared “I had a great week at Summer Camp. And even though we can’t get together in person, we have some great programming planned to best represent Dude Ranch. I look forward to seeing and interacting with our past campers and our new!’ What kinds of fun surprises will campers receive in their program care packages? Only our Dude Ranch Virtual campers will find out! To learn more or to register, please visit https://camponestep.org/dude-ranch-virtual/.

Our second Fall program, Family Camp Virtual, will be held from October 9-11, and promises loads of family fun all weekend long! Any family who has a child (age 19 or younger) that has been diagnosed with cancer is welcome to join us. This unique program connects families with each other in a fun, supportive environment where they can share some laughs, information and stories. Kids and parents will enjoy exciting indoor and outdoor activities, zoom activities, and a special educational session for parents only will also be offered. Each family will also receive an amazing care package filled with arts and crafts supplies, program supplies, treats and other goodies to make their experience memorable. Family Camp Virtual offers a great chance to relax and strengthen your bond as a family, while connecting with other camp families throughout the weekend. This year’s Volunteer Leader Danielle Shell says “One weekend to spend quality time TOGETHER is Family Camp weekend 2020! It means MORE to me now than EVER!!! Movies, laughter and FUN is EVERYTHING to me. Being safe and healthy is not just a phrase, it’s a daily goal, and what better way to ensure we accomplish all that by attending Family Camp Virtual 2020!!! To learn more or to register your family, please visit https://camponestep.org/family-camp-virtual/.
Do you have a device that will allow you to log in for zoom activities during Dude Ranch Virtual or Family Camp Virtual? Camp One Step recently launched a technology initiative where campers can borrow an iPad to take part in one of our virtual programs. We will ship you the device and include a return label to make it an easy process! If you would like to borrow an iPad or are in need of any other technical support, please contact Darryl at dperkins@CampOneStep.org. Note: We know several campers already own a device, so we encourage you to test your device with Zoom prior to the program.

On April 17th-19th, Camp One Step hosted our first virtual program, Chicago Day Camp. We transitioned from an in-person program to a virtual program and it was amazing!! Our campers had a great time and everything that makes camp one step special, was felt that weekend.  As campers logged onto the Zoom video call each day, they were welcomed by energetic counselors and Camp One Step staff. Everyone was sporting crazy hats, costumes, and pajamas based on the daily themes! Campers then broke into small groups, and counselors led activities such as telling jokes, molding Play-Doh, and the fan favorite, creating MadLibs. Then, campers participated in virtual field trips to meet reptiles, go on an improv adventure, and practice yoga! We wrapped up each day with Camp songs! We were beyond thrilled to see how our campers engaged with the activities and one another throughout the virtual programming. Virtual Chicago Day Camp was a success, and left campers, parents, counselors, and staff smiling ear-to-ear! Thank you to all of our campers, families, volunteers and staff for making Chicago Day Camp virtual a very special one!

From one of our parents. “This was Isaac’s first time attending a Camp One Step program, and our experience was absolutely amazing. When he received the care package in the mail it gave him a new sense of excitement over what was to come for the weekend. Isaac spent over an hour with his dad the night before camp decorating his All About Me t-shirt for the first day, and on the first morning of camp he felt so special to find out one of the counselors had many of the same favorites as him bunnies and ice cream! He made friends with some of the other campers virtually over many shared interests, and he can’t wait to meet them in person.”

 

Camp One Step is not just a place, it is a Community!

It is a community of people who love going to camp to spend time with their friends and make memories. Program after program, we understand how much our campers look forward to sharing experiences and supporting each other. We also want to let you know that we are here to support each of you any way we can. Now and always, we are one community, One Fight One Family. Throughout time, our mission remains the same: Through community, support, and shared experiences with peers, we deliver happiness. Which is why we are making Camp One Step available each and every day.

Today we are excited to announce a new way that we can engage as a camp family, with the creation of Camp One Step On Demand. Camp One Step On Demand will bring camp to you 365 days a year. This virtual connection allows our community to create shared experiences in an all-new digital format. We created Camp One Step On Demand to offer virtual camp experiences that allow our campers to participate in their favorite camp games and challenges from anywhere. Our goal is to continue to be true to our mission and bring happiness to our campers.

Camp One Step On Demand gives us the opportunity to bring elements of camp to you, as we will be sharing games, activities, communications, and more. This is our way to offer you a virtual Camp hug because we believe that camp isn’t just a place, it’s a community.

We invite each of you to join us on this virtual journey, and stay connected as one community through Camp One Step On Demand! Please follow our social media and website for new activities that will bring camp to you!

 

For more information go to https://camponestep.org/ondemand/

On April 7th, over 30 of our campers are heading to Washington D.C. for a week of exploration, education and advocacy. Of course, they will also be surrounded by new and old friends they have made at Camp One Step, affectionately referred to as their Camp Family.