A Camp HUG reflection by community blogger, Diane Lee

What, might you ask, do high-ropes, elephants, and golden eggs have in common?  Well, if you were lucky enough to attend this year’s Camp HUG you would understand.  Camp HUG (Hemophilia Uniting Generations) is a family camp weekend offered to the bleeding disorder community through the Arizona Hemophilia Association and the Cascade Foundation.  It is a chance for families in this special community to come together and participate in family oriented activities designed to improve the quality of time families are able to spend with each other as well as with other families.  The camp is a great compliment to the many activities offered for the different groups within our community.

Our family had not attended Camp HUG in previous years even though my children had attended the kid’s camp for many years.  Each year we made the excuse that we had to work and was unable to get away or we had so many other activities going on and this was not feasible at the time.  I figured my kids had enjoyed camp in the summer and wouldn’t feel they missed out.  My husband and I felt “too old” to go to camp.  Boy! Were we wrong!

Having more flexibility with my time this year, I decided to get more involved with the activities sponsored by the Association.  We had always attended the Annual Meeting and I had previously attended Washington Days, but this year I committed to being more involved with BleedHers and my son joined the EPIC group for teens.  When attending the Women’s Retreat, many of the ladies convinced me that Camp HUG was an event not to be missed.  They were correct!  Thank you, ladies!

After checking in and making our family crest, Pat Torrey facilitated a great session with the teens and parents.  He demonstrated how we make logical decisions and emotional decisions.  He used an elephant to represent our emotional control and the rider to represent our logical drives.  He gave us pointers on how to control our path and how to embrace both our rider and elephant. He was a dynamic leader and inspiring teacher.

Pat’s lessons on how to control the rider and elephant were put to the test the very next day.  My elephant was ready to bolt for the woods at the thought of walking the high-ropes and taking the zip-line.  However, I took his advice and decided to make my path smaller.  I managed to muster the guts to shimmy up the thirty-six foot pole and planted myself on the platform poised to “zip” to my certain demise.  Before the climb I had watched my agile teen son scale the pole and fling himself across the swing bridge and slide silently down to the base of the zip-line.  He was confident, skilled, and fearless.  My daughter then bounded up the pole and slowly carefully walked her way across the thin rope and she also slid gracefully down the wire.  My youngest son, being his first time, fearlessly took his first few steps up the pole.  Once he was a good, maybe, five feet off the ground his elephant took over and was wanting to run for the hills.  He started shaking and asking to come down.  My first instinct as a Mom was to grab him off the pole and hug him.  I listened to my rider and knew he was safely harnessed to an experienced instructor and all would be fine.  We encouraged him to take a few more strides up.  He was able to make it about half way up the pole before coming down.  As a family we were there to offer encouragement and consolation and confirmation.  Having witnessed this small triumph with my son, I was more resolute to experience my own triumph.  When it was my turn, I managed to get a few feet off the ground before my elephant, too, wanted to run.  Hearing my family and friends assure me and encourage me to continue is the only thing that got me to the top of the pole.  From below, the pole looked tall, but from atop, it was freakishly high.  Hearing my son count down and offer the same words of encouragement he had just heard, gave me the strength to carry out my mission.  Down I slid, not as quietly as Anthony nor as gracefully as Amanda but to the bottom just the same.  My elephant and rider were in harmony, if only for a moment.  It was joyous!

After our day full of ropes, zips, crafts, and games, we thought we were done for the weekend.  However, there was Sunday, a day of competition and tournament play.  Keeping with the Indiana Jones theme, families competed in different games seeking clues and artifacts to fulfill Professor Jones’ challenges.  We hunted for hidden golden eggs and lassoed innocent chairs.  We slathered whipped cream on our heads and fired deadly marshmallows at each other.  We wrapped mummies and sought out our missing family crests.  It was great to see families working together to achieve goals and compete together.  Through this weekend, we could witness unity across generations.  Camp HUG was a success from high-ropes to elephants and to golden eggs.  HUG mission accomplished.


Send your camp stories to amanda@hemophiliaz.org!