For the last 4 years, Darby and her siblings have been attending Camp Hobe’, located in Settlement Canyon about an hour outside of Salt Lake City. She first came to the camp after having been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, which is primarily a bone cancer and often affects children and teens.
According to her mother Rachel, Darby and her siblings have looked forward to camp each year. Each of them are also looking forward to someday joining the staff of Camp Hobe’ as counselors.
“I have seen my children grow as a direct result of Camp Hobe’,” Rachel recently wrote in a letter to the camp’s director. “They have come to appreciate other children in whatever shape or form they come in. They have come to accept others who are different from them. They have learned to appreciate the struggles others face. And I have seen them learn compassion, friendship and acceptance.”
Now cancer-free for 3 years, Darby looks back fondly at her time at Camp Hobe.
“No one gets lonely at Camp Hobe’, “ she says. “Everyone knows everybody else—even the new campers or counselors are quickly introduced. We grow closer together as we stay up late talking, pranking other cabins and doing rotations.”
Although she enjoyed many of the camp’s activities like the zip line and swimming, Darby says that the dance held on the last night is her favorite—and the favorite of many other campers. It begins by campers, counselors and staff gathering around the campfire and passing a spirit stick. Each has the opportunity to share what coming to camp has meant to them or what they most enjoyed during their stay. The spirit stick is then placed into the fire.
“[We] save the last part to burn for next year,” she says, “so it’s a continuous loop, to connect the years together.
After the spirit stick ceremony, the campers head indoors and dance until midnight, bringing their camp stay to a fun end.
While the activities are fun, Darby says they’re not the most important thing to her. She says that the people she has met have given her the inspiration she’s needed.
“Without the confidence that Camp Hobe’ gave me, I would never have tried to climb the rock wall,” she says. “I never would have experienced all the hard teamwork problems we did together. Everyone pushes limits in one way or another at camp. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I know my family is, too.”