After a couple of weeks of reflection and allowing him to get back into his regular daily routine, I did an interview with Cam about his Camp Kanata experience. Here is what he had to say.
Q. So, you’ve had a week back from camp. Are you tired anymore?
A. I was exhausted the first few days after camp but I’m not that tired anymore.
Q. How was it?
A. It was really fun. There was a lot of stuff to do and I made a lot of new friends.
Q. Give me an example of what you did every day.
A. We did chapel every morning and then we got to go to our activities. You could pick three activities that you wanted to do. I did dodgeball, canoeing and archery. In the afternoon, we got general swim time.
Q. What was your favorite activity that you did?
A. My favorite was canoeing. At the end of the week we had a long canoe trip that went 11 miles. I had never gone canoeing before so it was a new experience for me and really fun.
Q. Talk about your sleeping arrangements?
A. We had a cabin that was filled with kids all my age. We had to get up at 7:00 in the morning every day and went to bed around 10:00 every night.
Q. Did you hang out with the guys in your cabin or did you go your separate ways during the day?
A. Yes, we had our own cabin table in the dining hall and we did all of our activities together. We became very close.
Q. Were you the only one with celiac disease?
A. Yes, in my cabin. One of the guys in my cabin was at camp with his younger brother and his younger brother is also a celiac. There were about 30 gluten-free kids at the camp.
Q. So you had your own table in the dining hall. Tell me how food was handled.
A. You passed around all of the food, which I didn’t have any problems with doing but I did get nervous when some of the other boys passed food over my plate. I was worried about any crumbs falling into my food.
Q. Did they all pass around your gluten-free food?
A. No, I went to a separate table to pick up my food for every meal. They had it all set up where you could just go back this table and the staff asked what you wanted. It was cool because you could get as much of whatever you felt like eating.
Q. Was it different from the regular menu?
A. It was pretty much the same food as the regular menu but with substitutions like a gluten-free bun. One day we all had hot dogs. The other guys in my cabin had their food brought to the table. I had to go back to the other table to get mine.
Q. What about drinks?
A. Everyone got water or juice. The gluten-free kids had to bring their own water bottles since in the dining hall, they set the food trays on top of the drinks because the tables were crowded. We brought bottles so nothing would fall in our drinks.
Q. What was your favorite food?
A. Anything at breakfast. The sausage with toast was really good. Oh, and one night they made gluten-free funnel cakes. I had not had a funnel cake since I was diagnosed and it was really good. The other kids only had a regular-type of cake so that cool that we got these.
Q. Were you ever worried about “getting glutened” when you were at camp?
A. Yes, like the first few days I was a little worried but then I figured out that it was all safe and that they had prepared for this and I was going to be fine. Even if I did get “glutented” I felt like I had a good support base with my cabin and my cabin leaders. They also had a couple of celiac counselors that helped run the gluten-free food in our cabin unit.
Q. Any advice that you would give to a kid that was thinking about going to a gluten-free camp like this but still unsure if they would be safe or not?
A. I would say that you wouldn’t need to worry as the camp takes really good care of you. They prepare food separately, know about cross-contamination and the meals are really good. After a few days, I got used to going to another table and didn’t worry about what I was eating. It was nice to not have to think about my food as much.
Q. So would you go back?
A. Yes, I was really sad when I left. I wanted to stay an extra week. I hope that I am able to back next year.
As a dad, I want to personally thank everyone that helped to make this week for Cameron as memorable as it was. The staff at Camp Kanata treated all of us wonderfully and made this not just a week away from home, but a life experience that he will cherish forever.