I worked at Camp UKANDU from 1989 until 2001, then again from 2004 to the present. UKANDU is a camp in Oregon for children with cancer and their siblings. Being there is a heart-opening experience for me.
The kids are always so inspiring. They are all full of life. Their spirit is contagious. They always made the camp experience special. As I write this I realize it is pretty sentimental and schlocky sounding. But the truth is that words can’t really describe what it is like to be at camp. The closest I’ve ever come is to say that camp is a place where everyone relates to everyone else straight from their heart. That pure honest communication of love and compassion is everywhere. If you haven’t lived it, you can’t imagine it. If you have lived it, you can’t forget it.
For my first 12 years I was in charge of campfires, ceremonies, general camp cheer, etc. (That’s me in my Dredd McMahon above right.) Upon my return I’ve been in charge of music pretty exclusively. It’s been absolutely fabulous, although I still wonder why they have a guy who can’t hear, can’t sing, and can’t really play guitar be in charge of music. I guess they just want to prove the axiom that says “If you can talk, you can sing.” The best part has been the years when Phil and I have gotten to combine forces to do music. It has been tons of fun for us and for the camp.
I have to say that, in addition to the kids, the all-volunteer staff is really tremendous. Many of them have been at camp for 10 years or more. It’s a very special group of people. Another wonderful thing about camp was spending the week with many of my family members who tended to become counselors (see both group photos).
The camp is powered through generous donations as a 501(c)3 organization. There is only one paid position. More than 90 people volunteer for our one week in the summer and countless hours of prep happen during the year. You can make it happen by going here to donate.