Hemophilia Camp Sparks Joy in My Son

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by Joe MacDonald |

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My son gets off the bus. I look at his face, hoping to see an indication of how his first camp experience went. Did he have a good time? What kind of life lessons did he learn being away from home for a whole week? I looked for answers to all my questions in his eyes.

He hugged me and the first thing I noticed was a sense of joy that only a father can recognize when seeing his son after an extended period. We loaded up the car with his stinky clothes and various necessities for camp life. Then I asked him how he’d enjoyed his wilderness experience. “MacDonald the Younger” began to share the incredible time he had away from home. As he talked, I noticed that my 12-year-old son spoke with fantastic clarity and a profound joy that had seemed missing before his time away.

I listened and felt incredible gratitude for my boy and for the many men and women who make camp possible for everyone in the bleeding disorders community. Many of those who participate as cabin supervisors, doctors, nurses, and members of the board of directors often leave their own children at home for a week to make my son and the other kids at the camp feel special. The efforts of our amazing volunteers create safe spaces for campers to share stories about life in trenches when dealing with bleeding disorders. Sometimes, time away from home may be the only place to talk about ideas or events relevant to each person. Validation comes to those who can’t seem to find acceptance in the real world.

While my little buddy continued to share the events of the week with me, a realization hit me over the head. In the confines of the camp, hemophilia is not unique. Every child has a bleeding disorder, be it hemophilia, VWD, or other issues. No one feels pressure or worry that someone might find out that a person is “different.” Needles, port-a-caths, and medicines are the norm. No one needs to explain their condition as everyone knows the ups and downs of what it means to live with a bleeding disorder. The community of affirmation and acceptance brings power.

Tonight, my son went to bed at a very early hour. He raised a white flag and surrendered to the fatigue that only a week of excitement can bring. As I turned off the lights in his room, I wished him goodnight and smiled. I caught a glimpse of joy in his eyes, and I saw a depth of hope in his heart. Camp changes things, and for that, I silently say, “thank you.”


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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