Boston Hemophilia Center

Contact the Boston Hemophilia Center 617-355-6101
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Contact the Boston Hemophilia Center 617-355-6101
International +1-617-355-5209

NEHA's Virtual Family Camp

By Rie Kamimura and Matt Gross

This June, we attended the first Virtual Family Camp hosted by the New England Hemophilia Association. While we did miss the usual lakefront experience of Family Camp with friends and community, the virtual event experience was surprisingly rewarding. Our 8-year-old daughter, Hana, and 3-year-old-son, Kai, who has severe hemophilia A, participated in several of the activities and enjoyed this camp experience.

To kick off the event, our children received huge boxes of art supplies delivered to our home. The instructions told us to download a mobile app that contain a series of challenges to be completed during the week. The most popular activity in our household was an excellent socially-distanced summer game called the Whipped Cream Challenge.
We watched the instructional video demonstrating how to place 
a dollop of whipped cream in your palm, send it soaring in the air above you, then catch it in your mouth. While we didn’t have much success with our tosses, it was a lot of fun, and we shared a video of our attempts with the rest of the community.

The weekend events consisted of online virtual-video Zoom conferences to bring the camp experience to our homes. It was nice to reconnect with other families through the screen, many of whom were camping out in tents in living rooms and backyards to create a fuller experience of Family Camp, while our children were able to connect with the camp counselors.

       
 KAI & HANA

Traditionally, the evening campfire is the keynote event for us since it brings everyone together to close the day. This year, we had a virtual campfire where we could see the great number of other families who had joined from across the country and even overseas. Camp leaders took turns taking us through the traditional campfire songs that brought back fond memories and emotions of Camp.

There’s something about song that brings people together whether it’s in person or virtually.

COVID-19 has changed a lot of the programming we do as a community. For several years, I have worked behind the scenes on the planning committee, and when we discussed the possibility of camp going virtual, it was a big task to take on. There were so many emotions about such big changes - like not physically going to camp and being without my extended family. That was a lot to take in. How do we go about doing this?

I found being able to help plan for virtual camp behind the scenes made it all the more special. In general, there are a lot of moving pieces that go into making camp great and this year was no exception. Even though we are feeling "zoomed out" as I call it, we still were able to maintain that connection virtually. We chose our theme of "Ohana ' and proved Rich Pezzilla's (NEHA executive director) belief: "Mantra camp is not just a place; it's a feeling that lives in our hearts!" I truly feel camp all year long.

This year, we had a wonderful welcome session utilizing breakout sessions to help duplicate the educational sessions we always have during camp. Even with this virtual experience, we were still able to have those connections and see the smiling faces, and have all the families interact using an app. We were able to participate in our virtual campfire and host a fun medical-themed scavenger hunt for the whole family. I know this community is a wicked strong family and even though we were apart this year, we were still able to feel connected in the best way possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Read about a 20-year NEHA-Camp veteran’s experience at Virtual Camp.


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