Building a Lodge for Camp Triumph
Created November  7, 2009 by Megan Brown
When a family member has a chronic illness the whole family is impacted.
Camp Triumph is a truly unique, residential adventure based camp designed to meet the complex needs of children living in families where chronic illness is a fact of life. The campers have a parent or sibling with a severe chronic illness or disability. Living in a family impacted by a chronic illness can influence a child in many ways with uncertainty about the future, financial burdens and other stresses necessitating making the ill family member the priority. The children can’t get the attention and opportunities they deserve.
These children and youth have added responsibilities and stress and an array of competing emotions. The mother of one of our campers wrote, “I feel society does not understand the effect or struggles on a child when a family member has a chronic illness of disability. Teachers may not understand time missed, homework not completed or struggling grades. Coaches and band coordinators do not understand missed games or practices. Friends don’t understand when parties are not attended or when they can’t come over because family members are stressed exhausted or absent due to medical appointments or hospitalization.”
While there are many camps available for children suffering from an illness or disability themselves, this largely forgotten group of children has had nothing…….until Camp Triumph came along. There is no other organization specifically addressing the needs of this population. At Camp Triumph these children are given an opportunity to take a break from the demands of challenging life situations. Self esteem and confidence are nurtured and friendships are forged with those who can truly understand through a shared circumstance.
Camp Triumph was developed in 2005 by a small but dedicated group of volunteers who believed strongly in the need to offer these children a safe, fun, week-long summer camp experience with other children in similar situations and all at no charge to the families.. From the first year where 41 campers between the ages of 8 and 17 spent a week at a donated location to 2009 where we held a leadership camp and 3 week- long camps that saw a total of 186 campers from all 4 Atlantic Provinces experience the time of their lives, Camp Triumph has come a long way. Kayaking, arts and crafts, trips to local attractions, nightly campfires, archery, beach activities, Carnival Day, and the Camp Triumph Olympics are only a few of the experiences our campers enjoy.
Everyone who works at Camp Triumph is a volunteer. In 2009, 74 volunteer staff participated. All of the Camp counselors are university students coming from a variety of faculties such as Medicine, Engineering, Architecture, Journalism and Fine Arts. Our other volunteers range from Educators and Guidance Counselors to Firefighters.
Another parent wrote this year:
"Upon picking him up I saw a light shining in Ben's eyes that I hadn't even realized had gone out. His own words have summed up all I believe your camp strives to achieve....."Mommy, I was free." Free from responsibility. Free to laugh and be as loud as he wanted. Free of a world where fun gets sidelined, promises get broken and plans change with every seizure, fall or complication. You and your phenomenal staff have created an oasis for a neglected population and you have given our family a gift greater than I am capable of expressing. I wish for each and every volunteer, cook, counselor, carpenter, founder etc to take a quiet moment and reflect with joy that you have each irrevocably changed my little boy’s life"
2009 saw us start building our own permanent facility, with 46 volunteers contributing their carpentry skills. We now have a kitchen/dining hall and scullery as well as camper and staff washrooms with showers. 6 cabins will be built over the winter with the help of Holland College and its carpentry, cabinet making and electrical staff and students.
Our major need is a lodge - an indoor facility large enough to allow us to implement programs such as music and art therapy and to give us space large enough to provide programming to our campers during inclement weather. The camp for the past 5 years has been able and will continue to raise its annual operating budget through fundraising, grants and donations. We are fortunate to have a lease of a beautiful piece of land, from the PEI Provincial Government where we are building a facility which would allow us to accommodate up to 500 deserving children each summer. The estimated $100,000. cost of building a lodge would provide a facility which would continue to meet the needs of this unrecognized and under supported group of at risk children and youth. Being chosen as an Aviva Community Fund recipient will allow us to continue to support families dealing with chronic illness.