My small but dedicated cadre of followers may have to put up with only semi-regular posts over the next week. I will be going to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta tomorrow, and will be there through next Saturday. My internet access will be limited, but I’ll try to quench your thirst for more posts as time permits.
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is a week-long summer camp for kids who have, or who have had, cancer. Now in its 27th year, it is everything a summer camp should be — there are games to be played, crafts to be made, ropes to climb, swimming, athletics and lots of singing (more on that in a moment). The difference is, of course, that every camper is dealing with (or has dealt with) a life-altering disease. A good number of the counselors and staff are, themselves, former campers, and the vibe is unlike the vibe anywhere else. It is a week of goofiness and zaniness. Just perfect for me.
This will be my seventh year as Music Director. We sing at every meal (and whenever the spirits strikes over the course of the day), and the songs range from traditional camp songs (“Rise and Shine,” “The Happy Wanderer”) to show tunes, modern pop hits, and the Camp Song, written by folk singer Diane Zeigler, whose brother was a camper at Ta-Kum-Ta years ago.
The meaning of the camp can be summed up in a vignette from two years ago. On the first day, I observed three new campers, girls who were 16 or 17. All three of them were bald, and all three wore hats or wigs to disguise their bare scalps. I remember thinking to myself, “That’s not going to last very long.” And within an hour or two, they had discarded the head coverings, and confidently walked about camp completely bald.