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How one summer camp is changing lives for youth

For Aidan Morris, the stress of medical tests and chemo treatments was taking its toll. But the many fun summer activities at Camp Goodtimes helped take his mind off everything Aiden was going through. Of all the great summer camp experiences, one event stands out for Aidan—the year Trevor Linden showed up for the mashed potato fight.

“I was about nine years old and this was one of the popular activities at the time,” recalls Aidan. “The chance to cover Trevor Linden with mashed potatoes and to hang out with Captain Canuck was a really unique experience to share with friends after camp.”

Camp Goodtimes, located near Loon Lake in Maple Ridge, was special to Aidan because it was a place where he could forget about his cancer.

Every year, 350 pediatric cancer patients, survivors, and their families attend the free camp and for many, the worry-free week is just what the doctor ordered. The camp is funded through the annual Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer campaign, which Coast Capital has sponsored since 1997, investing more than $2.25 million to advance pediatric cancer research while helping hundreds of children and youth like Aidan attend Camp Goodtimes.

For Aidan, the news that he had cancer came when he was just three.

“My dad and I were playing and he noticed that the right half of my abdomen was completely solid,” Aidan says. “My parents took me to BC Children’s Hospital where I was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma.”

Hepatoblastoma is a solid tumor in the liver found in 1.6 out of every one million people aged 19 and under. It was at one of Aidan’s many visits to the B.C. Children’s Hospital that a nurse first told the family about Camp Goodtimes.

“I was seven when I first attended camp and I was terrified to go,” remembers Aidan. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Camp Goodtimes was different in a way that almost can’t be described by words.”

Camp Goodtimes participants (ages 7-20) engage in several outdoor and recreational activities in a safe, supportive, medically supervised environment, allowing kids and their families going through an experience that is anything but normal to enjoy a normal rite of passage for children: summer camp. By involving family members, Camp Goodtimes recognizes that the stress of cancer affects the whole family.

“Without our donors, we simply couldn’t do the important work of advancing pediatric cancer research and supporting patients and families. Coast Capital Savings’ ongoing investments in Camp Goodtimes, through their sponsorship of the Cops for Cancer campaign, helps ensure that we continue to be there for children and youth going through cancer and its aftermath.”

– Barbara Kaminsky
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division

Aidan has been in remission for 16 years and now volunteers as one of the camp’s youth leaders. Being a childhood cancer survivor has taught him much about courage, hope and making the best of life and he says many of these lessons were learned at Camp Goodtimes.

“The experience has allowed me to work with and meet some of the most inspirational people, and I went from being a participant to believing that I could also help others,” Aidan says. “It’s a place where you can step out of your comfort zone knowing you are completely supported by those around you.”