The Colorectal Cancer Alliance hosted AllyCamp, an in-person retreat and training for our volunteer leaders, for the first time from April 30 - May 3. It was an opportunity for patients and survivors to bond, self-care, and equip allies to be effective advocates in their communities. Learn more below.
But first, counselors Howard Brown and Tia Reed and campers Mimi Pineiro and Sonia Richard reflect on their experience in postcards from AllyCamp.
Howard Brown, Counselor
Colorectal cancer patients, survivors, and Alliance staff gathered at Historic Banning Mills in Georgia to recharge, learn, share, laugh, hug, and cry. We came together from 17 different states to become better allies.
First, we started by looking at our self-care. We bonded to the calming sounds of a running river, doing a photo scavenger hunt, making crafts, and even recording a few TikToks! Our adventures continued on zip-lines, horsebacks, and kayaks.
We lifted each other up within each regional team to learn how to engage, educate, fundraise, and advocate more effectively. Our goal is to get more people screened and also raise funds for colorectal cancer research and patient care to end this disease in our lifetime.
AllyCamp was better than s’mores! It was truly an amazing experience.
Mimi Pineiro, Camper
AllyCamp was a moment to recharge. After being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2019, I didn’t have a lot of energy and motivation to keep moving forward. Bonding with others affected by this disease gave me a new purpose to live. I felt the joy of being cared for and made friends that understood exactly what I had been going through. Cheers to many more AllyCamps full of love, peace, and understanding.
Sonia Richard, Camper
I don’t even know where to start. The few days I was with my Blue Family were something we all needed. Even when I thought I would fall off my horse Cinder because the saddle was too big for me! It’s been over two years since most of us have been together due to COVID, which was too long to be apart.
We laughed, joked, cried, welcomed our newbies to the volunteer fam, and strengthened our bonds. As one camper said, “We didn’t wish to be in a group like this. But also, I’m thankful I am because it led me to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and all of these amazing survivors and advocates.”
We left with our hearts (and stomachs) full and the tools we need to continue our advocacy and become even stronger. Until next time!
Tia Reed, Counselor
My greatest takeaway from AllyCamp is that cancer will continue to impact patients, whether cured or in remission. As a camp counselor, I found safe hiking routes for patients affected by the disease, set up our welcome pavilion, and captained our scavenger hunt team.
AllyCamp was a safe place to reconnect post-pandemic around the fire and through activities with survivors and caretakers. Sharing, grieving, and forming collaborative volunteer initiatives were just a few highlights of our weekend activities.
Campers and counselors accepted the AllyCamp challenge before attending the event, including a commitment to one year of local impact. Before the event occurred, this select group of leaders recruited 36 screening partners, secured over 26 patient and family support partners, recruited 20 volunteers, secured 16 news stories about CRC, and raised more than $18,000 from more than 245 donors. But their work is just beginning.
“AllyCamp brings advocacy and fun together to create a dynamic team of leaders who will positively impact the lives of those affected by colorectal cancer,” said Ali Miller, Senior Director of Community Engagement at the Alliance. “It is our wish to have this event each year to bring more and more awareness to this disease and end it in our lifetime.”
View more photos from our 2022 AllyCamp here.