Meet camper Léa and her mother, Pascale. After three years of battling Léa’s cancer, they found strength during a session at L’Envol, the SeriousFun camp in France. For Léa, it was where she finally felt like she could be herself. For Pascale, it was the experience apart that brought them closer together.
"It’s undeniable. Being away that first time changed a lot of things for Léa, and for us."
When did you first hear about L’Envol?
Pascale: “When Léa was nine years old and we were in the hospital every other day for transfusions, a child psychiatrist told us about camp. I struggled with the thought of letting her go. It'd be the first time since her diagnosis that we'd be apart."
What convinced you to go?
Pascale: "The professionalism and heart of the staff and volunteers. It's just so special."
Pascale and Léa at L'Envol, the SeriousFun camp in France
What are you able to do thanks to L'Envol?
Léa: “Make friends! I'd been so nervous about relationships since I'd been in the hospital. I had no hair. But at camp, my friends were bickering over who'd support me by holding my arm! It taught me how to defend my ideas, too, like with the theme I came up with for evening activity. I called it ‘the evening between us’ and we had masks and music and dancing!”
What does camp mean to you?
Pascale: "It’s undeniable. Being away that first time changed a lot of things for Léa, and for us. She could enjoy being a young girl with kids just like her under the care of competent and loving adults. If it meant one thing in particular for Léa, it was inclusion. Léa was cut off from the world at eight years old and had difficulty making friends away from her peers. L'Envol gave her back the social life she'd lost."
"When I grow up, I want to be a volunteer to give kids the confidence L'Envol gave me!"
Do you have a favorite camp activity?
Léa: "Climbing! At first, I hated it. It scared me. But the volunteers encouraged us by hanging balloons so I climbed up to pop one! The most magical parts were the adventures. I remember one where we helped a pirate recover his treasure!
Would you recommend camp to others?
Pascale: "In an instant! Camp gave her a real childhood again. And after 13 months of hospital life, for almost 24 hours a day, it gave me the respite I needed. It became something to latch on to, to hope for, to cherish together."
How do you keep L'Envol close to your heart?
Léa: "I watch our camp slideshow and all the happy memories float back. When I grow up, I want to be a volunteer to give kids the confidence L'Envol gave me!
Sarah loves all things s'mores (there are a lot of varieties out there) and helps tell the story of SeriousFun through digital marketing. She leads the charge of content creation at the Support Center.