The Power of Camp is in All of Us
We recently spoke with Jacqueline Cadeau, Camp Director of Kan Etwal, the SeriousFun Partner Program in Haiti run with Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO).
If you’re looking for a true champion of camp spirit, Jackie’s the one! She knows camp inside and out—including when it’s time to get down to the serious business of planning and when it’s time to laugh. Jackie, who began at Kan Etwal in 2012, shares what camp has meant in her life, career, and community at large.
“Camp helped me discover the power we have to make an impact. It helped me to learn that we all have skills and talents that need to be unlocked.”
A camper and counselor at Kan Etwal, the SeriousFun Partner Program in Haiti.
How did you first hear about and get involved with SeriousFun?
When I started working at WWO, it was announced there would be a camp for the first time and that I would be involved. I had no idea what to expect. I thought “I’m not going to be able to do that!” I’m a naturally shy person so I was asking myself what I had to contribute. But thanks to the incredible support of WWO and SeriousFun, I gained both the confidence and skills to do the work successfully. From that very first year, I witnessed the incredible impact that camp can have on campers and our own lives.
What stood out to you the most during that first experience?
During that first year as Logistics Coordinator, one of my roles was to accompany the kids back to the hospital where they would be met by their caregivers at the end of the camp session. I remember waiting one day with a child whose parent never showed up, despite several calls and camp outreach efforts. Eventually, we were able to reconnect the child and family but it was a moment of realization for me: a parent doesn’t necessarily mean a caring adult. This is where camp comes in. We have the opportunity to truly support these children and make sure they know they are loved.
Jackie, Kan Etwal Camp Director, enjoying a walk with scenic views.
How did your time at camp help you grow?
Camp helped me to discover the power we have to make an impact. It helped me to learn that we all have skills and talents that need to be unlocked. Camp has also made me a strong risk analyst. I know how to wear lots of different decision-making hats. I learned how to step into other’s shoes and develop empathy. I learned how to overcome my own fears.
“We have the opportunity to truly support these children and make sure they know they are loved.”
Kan Etwals campers enjoying a team-building activity.
What’s your favorite thing about camp?
The changes in all of our campers. One camper told me that thanks to Kan Etwal, he is no longer afraid of talking about his HIV status. He is not afraid of the future. He struggled heavily with his mental health and wellbeing at age 14. At camp, he met incredible campers and staff. Now he’s continuing with his studies, and has become a mentor for younger campers.
Camp truly has an everlasting impact on campers. They will hold onto the memories for the rest of their lives. Our hospital partners call us for advice and guidance on how to help the psychosocial needs of campers—we are recognized in the community as leaders in this type of support.
How would you describe camp in three words?
Serious. Fun. Life.
A camper smiling mid-activity at Kan Etwal.
Camp is so much more than a place. How would you describe it?
Camp isn’t just a place. Camp is in you.