Summer is a great time to push and commit yourself to new experiences, and for senior Biology major Eileen Hu, she did just that. After receiving an email from the Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society about the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) summer camp, she “thought it would fun to try something new!” With aspirations to join the medical field, Hu thought this camp was the perfect opportunity for her, as it allowed her to “work with specifically children or patients with chronic illnesses”. Also, this camp was an opportunity for her to relish going back to summer camp where she “had some of the best memories that go back to campfires, fireflies, and being off the phone”.
Upon arrival at the MDA camp, Hu was assigned to a cabin of five six-year-old boys with the health condition, along with five other counselors. Since this disease worsens as the patient ages, many of the campers, since they were so young, were moving quite normally. Hu said, “It was so much fun playing baseball, swimming, doing arts and crafts, and playing laser tag with them.” Because the camp was accommodating to most ages, there were individuals as old as 15 years, and most of the activities were wheelchair accessible to broaden the amount of the activities offered.
Since the camp allowed for close-patient encounters, “the hands-on patient care experience reaffirmed my decision to become a doctor because my heart is full from this incredible rewarding experience where I was able to change lives”. Aside from these medicinal experiences, Hu realized how much energy is required to take of six-year-olds, as “campers liked to wake up at 6am”. Essentially, Hu was seeing in front of her eyes the importance of acceptance that these children with MDA constantly feel. Hu said, “At first, my camper did not want to wear his brace because it was uncomfortable for him, but after seeing all the other kids in the cabin wear theirs to bed, he wanted to fit and wear his too”.
As a budding physician, Hu took away many memorable lessons from this summer camp. According to Hu, “Since our cabin was so crazy, teamwork was necessary between us six counselors, but also with the amazing medical staff, the directors from MDA, and the campground employees to make sure everything runs smoothly and everyone is safe and healthy.” Not only was this experience vital fuel for Hu’s future goals, but also it allowed her to formulate new connections from her fellow counselors, to the patients themselves.