ARNOLD LIM: Camp Goodtimes gives meaning to ‘cheer’

“Hey, Camp Goodtimes, how do we feel? We feel awesome, awesome, very awesome.”

It was one of the first things we learn as a team.

One team member takes the lead yelling, “Hey, Camp Goodtimes, how do we feel?” Followed by the entire Tour de Rock team answering: “We feel awesome, awesome, very awesome,” in unison – culminating with a cheer and an animated fist pump.

Four months into training for the 1,000-kilometre Tour de Rock trek along Vancouver Island, “The Cheer” seems as much a part of the tour as the riders themselves.

Equal parts energizing, especially after a long training ride, and team building, it is a staple after every training ride, alongside a round of friendly fist bumps, handshakes and hugs among team members.

I realize now, however, that I didn’t truly understand what the cheer meant until I visited Camp Goodtimes.

Sixty kilometres east of Vancouver in Maple Ridge, and nestled along picturesque Loon Lake across hectares of lakeside cabins, lodges, a kitchen and numerous play areas including a WildPlay-type outdoor climbing challenge, the sprawling camp is a place many children with cancer yearn to go every year.

The summer recreation camp – for children and teens with cancer and their families – is a place where kids can just be kids, regardless of medical history or circumstance.

Here they live and play – mostly play – among those who know and understand the disease at a campground featuring medical supervision, on-site support and travel assistance at no cost to participants.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family is diagnosed, and the variety of different programs offered at Camp Goodtimes include activities where parents can stay with their young children or take time for themselves.

It is a week or two that many children, some of whom spend as much time at a children’s hospital as they do at home, look forward to every year.

It was here, crowded into a lodge packed to the brim with children and my Tour de Rock teammates, where it was as likely to see colourful writing scrawled in crayon as it was neatly printed computer fonts, where I truly learned why the fundraising from Cops for Cancer, Tour de Rock is so important and reaffirmed why I wanted so badly to be a part of it.

I also learned the children learn “The Cheer” early on, a chant of both solidarity and energy among children who are given respite for a short period at Camp Goodtimes and can forget about their illness and just have fun. It was here, after an evening filled with playing and spending time with staff, volunteers and campers, where I truly heard the cheer for the first time.

It’s already a pretty impressive sound when 22 riders chime in, in unison, driving their fists in the air and pumping their arms, but here at Camp Goodtimes, moments before we boarded the bus and left, the cheer rang out once more.

The sound is still imprinted in my head. The sheer volume, escalated by voices both big and especially small, rings in my ears every time our team performs it at the end of our rides.

Despite having done it many times before and after, I remember hearing it like I had never heard it before and may never hear again. It was awesome. Very awesome indeed.

Arnold Lim is a Tour de Rock rider for Black Press. To donate to his campaign, visit copsforcancerbc.ca/tourderock/arnoldlim.

alim@arnoldlimphotography.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

The District of Saanich is accepting nominations for the 2021 Environmental Awards until June 1 at 4 p.m. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Nominations now open for Saanich’s 21st annual Environmental Awards

Awards recognize individuals and organizations making Saanich more sustainable

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read