August 14

Camp of the Brave

Bator Tabor…. Camp of the Brave.

The day I opened the highly anticipated email that would reveal my PULSE assignment,  I was informed that I had been matched with the SeriousFun Children’s Network, Bator Tabor in Budapest, Hungary…I then, immediately, went online…first, to check out exactly where Hungary was located (I had a general idea…meaning…I knew that it was somewhere east of Germany!) and second, to look up the SeriousFun Children’s Network.  The more I read and learned about SeriousFun and Bator Tabor, the more my anticipation grew about my assignment.

The SeriousFun Children’s Network is a global community of 30 camps and programs designed specifically for ill children. All camps and programs offer free therapeutic recreational experiences to children with serious illnesses and their families.  The first SeriousFun camp was launched in 1988 by founder Paul Newman who imagined a place where children living with serious illnesses could go to enjoy the simple joys of childhood. The name “SeriousFun” acknowledges Paul’s playful humor and the positive impact that fun can have on children living with serious medical conditions. Fun is to be taken seriously!

We interrupt this blog for a plug for the “Newman’s Own” brand…. I had occasionally purchased Newman’s Own products because they were tasty and natural, but I had no idea the difference my seemingly small purchase could make in the life of someone else. 100% of Newman’s Own profits go to charity…100%!  They have donated over 500 million dollars since 1982.  They offer organic options, use recyclable packaging and live by the quote of founder, Paul Newman, “Let’s give it all away to those who need it.”  I encourage you to check out their website or like their Facebook page….and to buy their products!  https://newmansown.com/home

SeriousFun camps and programs are available to children living with over 50+ medical conditions, including cancer, sickle-cell disease, HIV/AIDS, endocrine disorders, orthopedic conditions and severe asthma. Since 1988, SeriousFun camps and programs have hosted over 732,306 children and their family members from over 40 countries.

Within Serious Fun’s global network, exists 16 Full Member camps which are independently managed and financed nonprofit organizations. Bator Tabor is a Full Member camp, an independently operated and funded NGO (non-government organization).  Bator Tabor accepts no government or church funding, so that they may remain autonomous. Their programs are provided completely free of charge.  Bator Tabor has even begun a program that brings the camp experience to children confined to hospital beds.  Every year, the number of participants has grown, so it is crucial to maintain and increase their donations…that’s where I come in!  My primary assignment is to help with international grants and fundraising.

Currently, however, I am preparing to attend the “International Camp” as a volunteer. The children in attendance will be from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, ages 7-18, who suffer from cancerous diseases. My role will be, Cottage Cimbora (meaning “pal”), where I, along with another Cimbora, will be responsible for our group of campers, 24/7.  Thankfully, English will be the common language (interpreters will be in attendance).  Through playful experiences, the children will choose their own challenges, experience success to build self-esteem, and discover abilities and competencies they may have thought they had lost or did not know they possessed.  As a Cimbora, my ultimate goal is to create healing experiences for the children.  I am honored…a little nervous…and excited to fulfill this meaningful objective.

There is a saying at Bator Tabor…”We Change Lives.” It is not lost on me that Bator Tabor not only changes the lives of the campers, but also the volunteers who are given the unique opportunity to serve these special children and this selfless organization.

What could be better than to hold your hand out to people who are less fortunate than you are?”                        

~Paul Newman