For three summers now I have made the trip from St. John’s to Halifax and onto Brigadoon. Each year had been a different experience for me. The first time, I was nervous about being recently diagnosed and only being nine at the time but I was eager to be independent. I had been looking forward to camp since I had heard about it from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
For the second year, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent but I had my heart set on camp and was determined to go. My parents waited with me at the airport, catching a glimpse of what camp offered me as I interacted with the other kids waiting. We easily went from discussing the latest cell phones to which medications we were taking and sharing a laugh over which treatments we had and what we didn’t like about them. We were able to share with someone our own age who really got it. And despite my mom’s insistence that I “take it easy at camp” I was proud to announce when I returned that I had completed a boating course.
Shortly after I returned I started a new treatment and shared with my parents all the other campers I knew who were on similar treatments. It helped reassure my mom and me about this next step in our journey with Crohn’s disease.
On my third trip, I was a seasoned camper and looked forward to reconnecting with friends and fully experience all of the amazing activities at camp. When I meet other young people with IBD, it makes me feel like I belong. I am a Brigadoon ambassador and my message always starts with “Camp is awesome!” Quickly followed by “You get to do lots of cool things!”.
As a parent with a child with Crohn’s Disease there is not much I can add to Caleb’s words. I am often times stuck to find the words that can describe the fullness in my heart when I see his face light up when he finds out he is accepted to camp or the joy I see in so many young faces as they leave for camp and the big hugs on pick up day when they don’t want to leave each other. That such a beautiful experience can come from being diagnosed with a difficult disease is a testament to the value and importance of a place like Brigadoon.