“Being the junior counselor makes you sort of the fun person,” Korngold said. “You get to run around and be fun and sort of do whatever you can to encourage the kids and get them going. I’m not a disciplinarian, but more the one who suggests we go push someone in the pool.”
The camp was founded with the intent to allow young cancer patients to participate in normal camp activities. “Many have lost their hair, are in wheelchairs, have ports embedded in their bodies. Some of the kids get chemo at camp,” Korngold said. “Yet these kids get up every day and all they want to do is have fun and run around and play.”
Campers have the opportunity to ride horseback, swim, canoe, fish and do archery. “Since the camp is totally handicap-accessible, they don’t miss out on anything, which is why it is so remarkable,” Korngold said.
Korngold also noted how willing people from the outside community were to volunteer their time. “Nobody thinks about the cost when it comes to these kids,” Korngold said. “It’s such a great environment to be in as a result.”
Many of the counselors at Camp Periwinkle are former patients and campers. “The kids get to go back when they’re in the hospital and they’ll see friends from camp and they’ll see doctors who are counselors. It made their hospital visits easier because they saw faces they could associate with camp and all the fun related to that,” said Korngold.
Korngold said that, at the end of the week, he emerges “with an appreciation for the resilience of the human spirit. Even though the kids have overcome or are fighting cancer, they are just irrepressible during the day. They are totally exuberant and full of energy.”