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Teen cancer patients and volunteers join up for fun in the mountains

By Elle Malcolm

Elle enjoying her time on the lake during the Tomorrow's Children event.
Elle enjoying her time on the lake during the Tomorrow’s Children event.


Last week I took part in my fourth Tomorrow’s Children event hosted by the Adaptive Sports Foundation.  Participants, who are teenage cancer patients from Hackensack University Medical Center learn to canoe and kayak on a nearby lake.    This year we had nine participants and a total of eleven volunteers.  All the volunteers are also in the same age range so it makes for a great opportunity for both volunteers and participants to make new friends.

The volunteers arrived early Monday morning to train on the water and do team building activities.  Some of the other volunteers had participated in the program before so it was fun to see familiar faces. We practiced our skills on the water and played different icebreakers.  These games helped the volunteers get to know each other better, and it gave us ideas for which activities to do when the participants arrived the next day.

Participants from the Tomorrow's Children group get some time to forget about cancer and enjoy a beautiful day on the lake.
Participants from the Tomorrow’s Children group get some time to forget about cancer and enjoy a beautiful day on the lake.

The teens arrived Tuesday morning.  I was excited to see familiar faces from previous years, along with some new ones! We started with a variety of get-to-know-you games.  One of my favorite games that we played was a form of musical chairs where one person stands in the middle of the circle and says something that they like.  Anyone who also likes that thing or activity must stand up and move to another chair, but they can’t move to the chair on either side of them.  The last person standing is the next person who is it.  In addition to learning more about each other, it was a great way for them to get moving after having to sit on a bus all morning! After a few more games and lunch we headed to the water.

At the water the volunteers paired up the teenagers for a day of kayaking, canoeing, and swimming.   We raced and kayaked along the edge of the lake to look at the wildlife.  After working up a sweat from kayaking many of us decided to swim off the small dock by the boat launch.  After leaving the lake, the kids returned to their hotel to relax before meeting us back at ASF for a barbeque.  At the barbeque we played games like catch and kan-jam, and we roasted marshmallows by a bonfire.

Volunteers and participants join together.
Volunteers and participants join together.


On Wednesday we played a game of kickball at the Windham little league field. We played creatively; some of the teenagers were unable to run the bases so they would kick the ball and their partner would run for them.  After kickball we had a picnic lunch at the field, then we went to play mini-golf.  The Windham mini-golf course is the hardest golf course I have ever played, but it is also the most fun.  We ate ice cream while we played golf, and then we headed back to Adaptive to say our goodbyes.  Tomorrow’s Children is one of my favorite events hosted at ASF.  It was great to catch up with all of the returning participants, and I loved meeting all the new people. I look forward to seeing everyone again next year!  To see more photos from the event, click here.