As I mentioned, I had the wonderful opportunity to workshop and speak at the Camp Bravehearts weekend at Double H Ranch over the last few days. Between the phenomenal Double H staff and volunteers and the Bravehearts sisters and bomb-ass crew, I feel like I’ve walked away with just as much, if not more, than I’d brought with me to teach.
Elisa opened the weekend with a terrific intention-setting exercise. Here are women-survivors in every stage of the cancer journey, and almost all of them–in one way shape or form–expressed through their intentions that they hoped to support at least one other camper. Whether that’d be through a listening ear, a positive attitude, words of wisdom/experience, etc. it didn’t matter, their intentions were simple: service.
Sometimes that thing in which we need the most can be found in giving it away to others.
The sisters come to camp for support. They look forward to the yoga and reiki, as well as the horseback riding, ropes course, crafts like: candlemaking, jewelry design, etc., and workshops that include topics of food and wellness. They come for community, for zero-judgement, for stress relief and guilt-free fun.
But most importantly they come to support one another.
Each of them has faced mortality, in one way or another, through diagnosis–perhaps some more frighteningly than others–yet there is no competition for who has the deepest scars or even the best new boobs (although the latter sounds more like them;)
Many sisters have even found gratitude in their disease: it brought them to Bravehearts, it changed their outlook on life, and/or they came out stronger for having gone through it.
Regardless of where they are in their healing, both physically and emotionally, camp lets them let go. Even the reluctant in the bunch are dancing and laughing by night’s end.
Each of them has her story, her own individual struggle, but all of that seems to melt away when the fun begins. Sure, get a big group of women together for any weekend and there will be tears, but–from what I’ve witnessed–they are all healing tears, both in loss and in joy.
I’m sure they’re not all best friends, but they’re family. The love and respect is palpable, the hugs, contagious.
They come alone, at least initially, a little worn and tatttered by the everyday stresses of life, and leave with the goodness of community, a little lighter and rejuvenated; face lifted from all the smiles, and abs perhaps a little tighter from a weekend never short on laughter.
For women especially, a whole weekend away from family (plus, hardly any outside contact because cell-service and wifi is minimal) is not easy to negotiate. Yet, these women who have witnessed the value of this sister-hood make returning to camp a priority year after year.
They have committed to themselves and each other, NOT to be stopped by family, by work, by life, and most importantly … by cancer.
I leave you with this: If you have the chance, peruse the two sites linked above. They are both amazing organizations that run on donation alone. Also, if you happen to have a woman in your life that could use a weekend Braveheart getaway here on the East Coast, do pass along the info. Same with Double-H; I can’t say enough for their camps. If you know of a child dealing with a life-threatening illness, do forward along their site. To say they do amazing things for children and their families is an understatement. It’s life-changing.