There are times at camp when someone might not want to surf. Or they just physically can’t. They may, however, be able to lay on a paddleboard and snorkel-fish!
This is what happened at our most recent camp. Santar didn’t have the strength to surf. He had recently undergone treatment, and weakness permeated through his body. This is quite common at camp, but Camp Koru offers activities that anyone can do, even while lying down. So that’s what Santar did.
While Santar pointed out fish from the surface on the paddleboard, one of our surf guides, Ola, swam and speared fish below. It was great teamwork and symmetry, and a beautiful celebration of connecting with the ocean. Santar brought fish back to camp and like a true local — we ate freshly caught fish over a fire.
- Attend 4 board meetings / year, ideally 2 in person and 2 via phone or video: February, May, August, November
- Financial donation of $500 annually or 50 volunteer hours / year
- Complete Board of Directors questionnaire
- Be passionate about cancer survivorship and our mission:
Athletes 4 Cancer helps cancer survivors find healing and empowerment through movement and connection.
Please email Tonia @ athletes4cancer.org with questions or apply. Thank you for your interest!
By: Tonia Farman
For each one of you who has ever given a dime to Athletes 4 Cancer, thank you. It has transformed lives. Here’s a quick reminder of what you’ve done.
I see your donations at work every time a survivor stands up on a surfboard with their post-cancer body; every time a survivor plucks up the courage to share their cancer story around the campfire; every time I read testimonials from Camp Koru alumni.
Reading testimonials from our camps makes me smile, cry (with happiness) and laugh. I hope it will do the same for you. Here are some of the latest testimonials we’ve received from our 2015 camps:
I was feeling stuck in a rut after treatment. Going to Camp Koru tossed me out of that rut into the ocean! The supportive community that was around me helped me to relax deeply and challenge myself! I returned home feeling peaceful, invigorated, and loved. –Star
Everything about Camp Koru is beautiful. Beautiful Maui, the ocean, the surf, and the people who exude a beautiful, peaceful, positive healing environment for the campers. The best thing about Camp Koru is there’s no pressure. No pressure to share stories, until you’re ready, no pressure to surf if your body achy. As an introvert, I felt comfortable in my own skin from the minute I arrived. That doesn’t happen often. The staff is laid back, witty, and caring. The food is out-of-this-world. Life long friends were made, sleeping under the stars, on a beach in Maui. How much better can it get? Camp Koru was a time for me to heal, reflect, and finally move forward from my cancer diagnosis and treatment. –Mino
I met so many incredible cancer survivors and cancer survivors at Camp Koru. Their friendship is what I value more than anything else. –Scuba
I made some lasting friendships, thrilled to the stunning natural beauty of Maui, got to surf and SUP and try some new things, and was surrounded by love and support and understanding for a full week. It was invigorating and rejuvenating, and it gave me strength to move forward. –Ripley
Koru was the positive force I needed to help me through treatment for triple negative breast cancer. As a surfer, I was crushed to be out of the water over a year and, though I barely had strength to stand up with lymphedema at 5 weeks post-surgery, having the help and support of the Koru Camp 6 Ohana fellow survivors was an essential step. –Koa
Thank you to all the donations, support, guidance counselors, and all those who helped make this trip become such a life-altering trip. I now have upwards of 20 new friends thanks to this camp. I would do anything for them and welcome them to my home as part of my family. –Renegade
I attended Camp Koru’s surf/SUP camp in Maui. What an amazing experience! It’s been a dream of mine to learn to surf and travel to Hawaii, and I never thought a cancer diagnosis was the thing that was going to bring me there. It was a truly unique experience to be able to live out this dream with other survivors who I was so inspired by. Since having this experience it has impacted my life by gaining strength and inspiration from other survivors to continue to live life to it’s fullest. –Flora
These words are proof that Athletes 4 Cancer is achieving what we set out to do: help survivors reclaim their life after cancer! We’re feeding souls and giving inspiration and healing. It’s truly incredible.
You can support us by making a donation here.
Ready! Fire! Aim! Sometimes that’s just how you have to do it for the first time. No one’s done it before. There is no precedent. There are no books or google searches that give you the steps. No YouTube how-to videos.
Taking risks and breaking trail means you might hit some big rocks and unexpected challenges along the way. Calculated intuition (that’s a thing, right?) helps. I like pickles and yogurt, not together. That helps with the gut, as in… what does your gut tell you? Mine is strong and speaks volumes. I follow it. I also listened to others’ guts. About 300 of them, in fact.
Sounds far from a scientific study on how to run a cancer survivorship retreat, huh? Yup, pretty much. This was the approach for our latest survivorship program, Ohana Mana, designed for cancer survivors who have attended our first survivor retreat, Camp Koru, and seeking a deeper experience that can help them find a great sense of purpose and accountability in all areas of life after cancer.
After running 18 camps of our first survivorship program, Camp Koru, we realized that many survivors needed something to help sustain and build upon the transformation that happened at that camp. Their lives after cancer were kick-started through Camp Koru, and they could use some additional long-term tools to keep that going. Our 300 + camp ambassadors spoke to us, their needs and feedback shaping a new program. There was no how-to for this new program, so we simply listened, and executed.
On September 24, we launched that first Ohana Mana retreat. We were open with the participants from the beginning:
“This is a pilot retreat. It’s success, as much as your experience, rides on not only how much you put into it, but your input and feedback to help shape it. This is your opportunity to be a part of creating something amazing, long-lasting, and life-changing. Own it.”
This was the first task for the group as they started their journey of creating meaningful and purpose-driven experiences in life after losing that to their disease. When you empower people to take ownership and build something as a group, magic can happen. This was our approach to Ohana Mana. We’ll keep you in the loop as to how it unfolds, but so far, we’ve received great feedback.
There is a stigma in the non-profit world to focus only on what’s safe and working while avoiding risk to appease supporters. Running programs that return proven results is absolutely essential but sometimes you have to take risks to be innovative. And you have to be innovative in order to inspire change in the world. We want to inspire that change, with our supporters hand-in-hand in that success just like our survivors. Thank you for inspiring change in the world with us!
Athletes 4 Cancer
By: Serenity Shanklin (“Redwood”)
On the eve of my 35th birthday, I had no idea that my world was about to be flipped upside down and shaken like a snow globe. All of the little things that I felt secure about were all out of place. Like anyone who is young and has a cancer diagnosis, I had instantly leapt out of the shelter of youth. I went from being 34 to 54 overnight.
A few years later, after everything I’ve been through to survive, my illusions about life are gone and I’ve had no choice but to grow up. At first I was simply mortified about what had happened to my body after an extremely invasive and painful surgery that left me with large scars externally and a Frankenstein digestive system that made socializing over food embarrassing. I worried about what I would look like and who would want to date me. I was self-conscious about what I’d been through, my fatigue, and how I was perceived at work. Unfortunately, none of this was misplaced.
Although I was supported and loved by many people, I was judged at work and I lost some friendships. Eventually, I realized that the few people that really loved me and thought that I was awesome for being a cancer survivor were the only people that mattered. I accepted love from a man who is supportive instead of chasing after men that were unreliable. I was discriminated against at work for the last time and I had the guts stand up for myself. I’ve made some really wonderful changes in my life, just in case, life really is short, I’m finally living a life for me. I hate cancer, but this is pretty liberating.
Surviving cancer takes everything you have. At first, I was so exhausted that I had to evaluate the effort anything would take. For instance, if I washed my hair I would not be able to do much for the rest of the day. That way of thinking transcended into everyday life, friendships, work, and activities. Lots of things that I used to enjoy just didn’t make the cut anymore and I couldn’t afford to feel apologetic about it. I had to do things that had a big payback if I was going to do them at all.
So, after my gastric surgery, I decided to do something I never would have done before. I signed up to fly really far away from home by myself, and go hang out with a bunch of complete strangers on surf boards [Camp Koru] in Maui. This gave me something to look forward to as I healed from my surgery, and it motivated me to get stronger so I could do it. I met witty and creative survivors. We had the opportunity to learn about the healing strength of the ocean at Surf Club Maui. We chased after sea turtles on paddle boards, held impromptu photo shoots on the beach, ate shave ice, and slept under the stars. I made a best friend. I felt empowered and gained a new sense of hope. The experience at Camp Koru continues to inspire me and set a new bar for how I want to experience the rest of my life. Taking risks on things that make you happy is what life is all about.
By: Camp Koru Alumna Ninja
Because if you put your mind to it, you can do more then you ever thought was possible. I’m not trying to be cliche or express a motivational motto—and I’m not trying to say that everything’s as easy as just “You can do it; just put your mind into it”—because that’s not true. It takes a lot. It’s hard physically and emotionally. It takes commitment, effort, focus and the acceptance of failure every time. I’ll give you a recent example.
In 2012, I couldn’t even properly stand up and walk on land, but somehow, I signed myself up for a weeklong camp [Camp Koru] to stand up on water on a paddle board. I got there and I said on day one, “Nope, I can’t do this. I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for this.”
By the end of the week—after many unplanned falls in the water and amazing support—I was up on the board, balancing and standing up on the water! Yes, I paddling slowly and carefully, but I did it. I got up! I was unsteady and my legs shook uncontrollably, but I was up! I’ve been trying to keep standing up on a SUP board every summer since then, and I would love to report that it’s really easy now, but that’s just not the case. What I CAN say is that every year I’m getting better. I’m gaining a little bit more confidence and there’s definitely no “I can’t do this” mentality. Getting rid of that mentality is the hardest part because the rest you CAN.
Thanks, Athletes 4 Cancer, for helping me be able to say I CAN!
[This blog was originally published on Ninja’s blog.]