was busy in July volunteering at the Canadian Ostomy Youth Camp in Kananaskis, Alberta and the Youth Rally. These two camps provide an opportunity for children and youth in Canada and the USA who have had, or may have to have, bowel or bladder diversionary surgeries an opportunity to get together with other kids facing similar issues. Rob has been a long-time supporter of both events. Recently, Rob's charitable organization, IDEAS, has got behind these events in a big way and found a way to build on them.

“We wanted to find a way that would build on the valuable life skills these two camps offer their participants,” said Rob. “So we've provided scholarship opportunities for the Canadian camp kids, between the ages of 16 and 19, to attend a Counselor in Training program so they can learn to better mentor and move on to a staff/volunteer role at camp. We've also been able to coordinate a partnership with Youth Rally that allowed us to bring Carly Lindsay and Clinton Shard, both Everest trek veterans to speak to the campers about their experiences living with inflammatory bowel disease and seeing the top of the world.”

Last year's CIT scholarship recipient, Kevin Ram, 19, of Vancouver, BC, was hired on staff at Camp Horizon, home of the Canadian Ostomy Youth Camp and was a shining star amongst the counselors at this year's camp. Kevin credits his CIT experience and his participation at camp for his development into a fine mentor for children living with intestinal disease. This year's scholarship recipient, Krystal, 17, from just outside of Saint John's, Newfoundland, has just finished her CIT program and is ready to come back to camp next year to start “giving back.”

Kids at these camps participate in activities ranging from arts and crafts, team building through whitewater rafting all the way to challenge activities like high ropes courses and the giant swing. They attend offsite events, like theme parks, and participate in group discussions about some of the challenges they face as they adapt to life with serious illnesses and/or ostomies.

One of the kids at the Canadian camp had this to say about her experience: “I spend most of my year trying not to appear too different from my friends back home. This is the one week every year I get to let down my guard and just be me. When I see people like Rob and Carly, who are so open about living with what they have, I feel inspired. I hope I can find the courage to be more open and just be me all the time.”

You can donate to the Canadian Ostomy Youth Camp and the Youth Rally to help send a deserving child or youth to camp. You can also donate online to IDEAS to help send a deserving youth to the CIT program.

If you'd prefer, send a cheque to the IDEAS office:

#521 – 119 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC, V6B 1S5

All donations over $20 will receive a Canadian tax receipt for charitable giving. For more information on IDEAS and its programs, please click here.

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