4/22/2015

Camp Bluebird - Land of Oz You Don't Want to Leave


Someday I wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

This is a line from the classic song, Somewhere over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz. Interesting that this movie was chosen as the theme for Camp Bluebird’s latest cancer camp the weekend of April 17th-19th.  At first glance, one might think what these two have in common.  I would argue plenty!

At the most basic level, this story-line is about Dorothy forming friendships along the way to Oz. Camp Bluebird is all about the bonding of friends over the shared experience of battling cancer.  There is a commonality of having faced death and survived to live another day.  With it comes a deeper appreciation for life and a renewed sense of love for life.

With the appearance of the Evil Witch in the story-line, we see the forces of good and bad at work. There is nothing good about Cancer. But at a Camp that is all about relaxation and good times, campers are rewarded for being alive and having survived.  The good news is St. Thomas; the sponsor of the Camp feels this event is a good way to treat cancer survivors who have been dealt bad news at some point, having heard the dreaded C word.

Through the journey of going to Oz, Dorothy meets many folks all the way. At Camp
Bluebird, continually new people are hearing of the Camp and attending. In attendance each time, are so many campers it is next to impossible to get one on one time with everyone. Thus, the weekend is always an opportunity to meet new names, and faces and engage in conversations with new folks and reacquaint with old ones.  The joy in this experience feels like coming back to a second home.

At the conclusion of this movie, as much as Dorothy loves Oz, she is homesick, wanting to return to Kansas.  Just like Dorothy, campers love the hideaway weekend of Camp Bluebird but find, come Sunday, they too miss their families and their beds at home.  Campers know red shoes aren't needed either to get home, just a simple ride in a car. And yet, when they leave it feels bittersweet. The friends at Camp they have and made feel like part of an extended family. 


One of the most beautiful parts of Camp is best put by camper, Lisa Dammont; everyone meets each other right where they are at.” There is no pulling one another this way or that, no airs or subtle put-downs for what someone does for a living, how much they make, etc.  Each bluebird is equal, on solid ground and respects each other. 

As Dorothy listened well to her companions, everyone at Camp too exercises active listening skills and offers hugs to each other as a way of showing support.  Physical touching demonstrates “I got your back.” In a world where so many are concerned only for themselves, this camp is about what one can give to another.


The hot air balloon in the Wizard of Oz is used to try to fly Dorothy home.  Unfortunately, it takes off before she has a chance to get in the bucket. At Camp, bluebirds symbolize the campers, thus they are called bluebirds.  Bluebirds had cancer or are still battling it.  The belief is that with the strength of God powering their wings, they too can fly.  Faith moves mountains so why can’t it power lives?

The yellow brick road led away from Dorothy’s house to Oz. And yet, ironically, as soon as she got there, she wanted to return home.  When bluebirds get to Camp, they feel right at home.  A place that is so peaceful and full of friends that it is cherished and valued. So, I suppose the Wizard of Oz differs here because Bluebirds feel they leave their home to come to Camp and be with their extended family.  Ah, yes, our Camp is like an Oz we love as much as our home!

And as for the bluebirds that have passed away and left this earth, never returning to Camp, we know, as surely as this line,
      Someday I wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me. 
yes indeed, they are in heaven, gazing down at us flapping their white wings in the sky. 
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