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My Chameleon's Journey Family

By: Dan Morris


For those that have participated in Chameleon’s Journey (CJ) as a Camper or a Counselor, you definitely understand when I say that CJ is a “special place.”


I started work with VIA Health Partners in 2010. I came to camp that year, and I have been back every year since. At camp, we divide the campers into small groups according to age. The campers spend the weekend in those groups participating in all the fun camp activities. The small groups also have hoping and coping processing times. I work as one of those small group counselors.



My first year, there was one very memorable CJ moment for me. During the Saturday evening Memorial Service, one of the campers in our small group was standing off by herself and started to cry. A veteran CJ counselor went and stood on one side of her, and I stood on the other. Very little was said, just one small sentence by my co-counselor: “It’s going to be ok. You have your CJ family now.” The camper took a breath, leaned in, and hugged us both.


Chameleon's Journey Camp Group Photo 2023
Chameleon's Journey Camp 2023

Every year camp is filled with a mix of returning campers and first timers. During that very first small group session, it is easy to tell the returners from the newbies. The returners are looking for faces they recognize, while newcomers are looking down at their feet. I begin by asking the returning campers to share what they liked about camp in the past. We also discuss that the small group is a “safe place,” where all of the members have experienced a loss. My absolute favorite part about camp is to witness throughout the weekend those small group members that were looking down start to make new friends, look up, and smile.


Camper hugging Chameleon's Journey Music Therapist
Camper hugging Chameleon's Journey Music Therapist

At a recent fall camp weekend, I was brought back to that same moment from my first year. Again, at the Memorial Service, one of my small group members was able to let his emotions out. He had his head in hands while shedding some tears. I remembered what that veteran counselor had done all those years ago. I put my arm around his shoulder and said “You’re not alone, and you can keep coming back every year.” That camper found me the next day and said “See ya next year Dan the Man!” Yes, I definitely will.







 

 To learn more about Chameleon’s Journey or VIA Health Partners, visit www.chameleonsjourney.org or www.viahp.org.


 

About VIA Health Partners


VIA Health Partners began as Hospice at Charlotte, the state’s first hospice, in 1978 and then operated under the name Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region (HPCCR) for decades before its name change to VIA Health Partners in 2023. Today VIA Health Partners serves 3,500 patients each day for hospice and palliative care services. Our service area encompasses 14 counties in North Carolina--Burke, Catawba, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Polk, Rutherford, Stanly, and Union. Its service area in South Carolina includes Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union, and York counties.

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