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Wanted: Inspiring Summer Camp Volunteers

May 3

Posted by: ACHA
5/3/2013 10:44 AM  RssIcon

By Alison Boerner

Camp Odayin provides life-changing camp experiences for children with heart disease. Thanks in part to a volunteer staff, each camp program costs only a $25 registration fee per camper. For most of the campers, Camp Odayin is the only chance they have to participate in a summer camp program, try new things, and be among other kids who understand the challenges they have faced in life. Eight–year-old Aidan didn’t know any other kids living with heart disease before coming to Camp Odayin. Aidan has an atrioventricular septal defect and goes through his daily life aside six healthy brothers. His family had attended Camp Odayin Family Camp, but like many parents, Aidan’s mom and dad hesitated to send their medically fragile child to Residential Camp. Aidan’s mom shared the following after Aidan’s week at summer camp...

“Aidan's dad and I agreed to let him go to Camp Odayin for one year because he's talked about going since he was five. Neither one of us was truly convinced that what he would get out of it was worth the 24+ hours of driving it would take us to get him there. In addition, Mike and I were concerned that campers with medical issues far more complex than his would only scare him more regarding his future. Congenital heart disease survival always felt like 50/50 to Aidan (although we've told him otherwise) because he's grown up knowing our close friends' son passed away in the PICU bed next to his. We dragged our feet signing him up for camp this year hoping he would change his mind about going.

“Last night, I asked Aidan what he learned at camp, expecting to hear about tubing or horseback riding. He smiled at me and answered, ‘I learned that everything is going to be okay.’ That one sentence was all it took to convince me of Camp Odayin's value.”

A huge part of Aidan’s positive experience was thanks to his incredible volunteer nurse and counselors. One of his counselors, David, also has a CHD. At Camp Odayin, not only did David relate to his eight-year-old campers, he inspired them. Campers identified with David as someone who shares their struggle and is a vibrant, positive person to emulate. Someone they want to grow up to be like, zipper scar and all...

Consider joining incredible volunteers like David and amazing kids like Aidan at camp this summer! Camp Odayin is currently accepting Residential Camp volunteer staff applications until May 15th. Volunteer counselors, nurses, and cardiologists commit to five days of camp in July or August and attend training in Minneapolis prior to receiving round-trip transportation to camp in Crosslake, Minn. Please visit for camp dates, volunteer job descriptions, and application details. Feel free to contact Alison at or (651) 351-9185 with any questions.

Alison Boerner has been the Camp Odayin Assistant Director for six years. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Chapman University. Alison has been involved with a number of camps as a counselor and member of the board of directors. She’s inspired by Camp Odayin’s campers with heart disease and is thrilled to be a part of a small organization that makes a big difference!

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