Timothy Hamling writes:
In the summer of 2015, I flew south to Texas for a week with the college’s L.O.V.E. program. Our reason for this journey was to volunteer as Camp Counselors at a small children’s camp in Meridian, Texas that specializes in providing an amazing camp experience for children with severe medical issues. The week we went, each camper in attendance had some form of kidney disease, with issues ranging from transplants to dialysis to varying levels of kidney failure.
The name of the camp is Camp Reynal, which is a play-on-words of the medical term for kidney illness, “renal disease.” Because of grants from the National Kidney Foundation, Camp Reynal did not charge any money at all for the campers. Each child attended for free and received all the medical support they needed at no charge. Our purpose at camp was to make sure the kids could focus on having fun and forget about their illnesses. After spending a week with the campers and seeing how strong they were despite life’s setbacks, we were devastated to leave at the end of camp and return to New York. Even after such a short time spent at camp, I knew I wanted to return. The next year, I led the trip back to Texas.
We were upset to learn in the fall of 2016 that Campus Ministry was replacing the L.O.V.E. Texas trip with a new one. Not only would we be unable to help at camp again, but without a group of students from Manhattan College, Camp Reynal would be understaffed, and would have to limit the number of campers they allowed that summer. We were devastated. Without the L.O.V.E. program’s help, Camp Reynal would have to deny camp access to a large number of campers. Because of this, I felt that it was important to take another group of Jaspers back to Texas so that we could volunteer again.
Despite the tremendous setback, we still did everything we could to send a group to volunteer at camp the following summer. Even without support from the school, we were still able to gather interest in a small group of students, and come the summer, we found ourselves flying south once more with old faces and new ones too.
This semester, we began a campaign to raise awareness about our trip to Texas. Unfortunately, the chances of L.O.V.E. Texas being resurrected are very unlikely, so we decided to have our own info sessions and created an instagram page to show the wonders of Camp Reynal to the rest of the MC community. If anyone is interested in learning more about camp, or has questions about the experience, I encourage you to attend our info session happening on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 3:15 p.m. in the Social Action Suite on the 2nd floor of Kelly. If you would like to stay updated, feel free to follow us on Instagram, @jasperstaketexas.
Camp Reynal is important to the hundreds of kids that attend every summer and I would love for as many Jaspers to experience the magic of camp for themselves firsthand.