The 2019 Next Step Summer Campference Season has sadly come to an end. We have so many wonderful memories from this summer that will carry us through the months ahead – from watching our Campference attendees enter their stretch zone and grow together to working with the amazing Campference volunteers and staff, like Laura.
We recently sat down with Laura to talk about her time at Next Step, including her experiences this summer. Read what she had to say!
How were you introduced to Next Step?
I was introduced to Next Step in 2010 about a day and a half before their first Summer Campference. I got a phone call from Lorrie, who was my music therapist when I was in treatment as a kid. Lorrie, all excited, called and said “I have this awesome thing for you to come to this weekend!” And then I was there, and fell in love with the people I was surrounded by and atmosphere you only get when you’re with people just like yourself.
What was your position at our 2019 Summer Campferences?
As the Arts Support Person this summer I got to work with participants during “jam sessions”. So whether they wanted to play some music or do some art, I was available to them to help assist with supplies, questions, and suggestions so the participants could create whatever and however they wanted to express themselves.
What were your responsibilities this summer?
My responsibilities included but were not limited to providing encouragement to the Campference attendees, managing supplies and needs, and help assist in the design and message development of the project done at the three Campferences this summer.
Why do you support Next Step?
I support Next Step’s mission because I’ve seen it in action, and I’ve been a product of its overall goal. We don’t just sit around all day holding hands while singing kumbayah. (ok, sometimes we do). There is nothing easy about the work being done here, it’s just incredibly inspiring and fulfilling, and now I get to say I’ve been able to be a part of this mission. I feel as though Next Step’s mission and my overall education goals coincide with each other. I hope that one day if I am lucky enough I will be able to work with this organization, that has completely changed my life, more than I already have. I am so thankful for Next Step giving me this opportunity and for believing that I was capable of seeing it through.
Why is expressive art important for young people impacted by cancer, HIV or a rare genetic disorder?
As someone who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age, I know the value of expressive art and the impact it can have. More often than not, I turned to art to be my voice, even when I didn’t know it. For a long time, it was the closest friend I had. It traveled to every hospital room, outpatient visit, and the back home again. There were also times it was the only activity I had the energy to do, since I could do it from my couch, or bed. There comes a lot of self-advocacy in illnesses as young adults, and it can be exhausting, especially if you’re not being heard. We need an outlet, and someone to listen. Lucky for me, I always had my voice, but it was best heard through my art.
What was your favorite moment or personal experience at our 2019 Summer Campferences?
At one Campference, I had someone who did a little bit of art that weekend run up to me to hug me and thank me, which caught me off guard. I felt as though I didn’t really affect their weekend in any way. This person ended up saying they felt like such a better artist because of the little time I spent with them. I felt so loved for doing what I felt was so little. It made me realize the impact I had on them by doing something fun and therapeutic with someone who needed it.
What are you up to these days outside of Next Step?
I’m going back to graduate school at Boston College this fall for social work!
Thank you Laura! We loved working with you this summer! Congratulations on your acceptance to BC!