What a week volunteering at Camp Lifeline Away meant to Jamie and Justin Benudiz

By Jamie Benudiz

This week my brother, Justin Benudiz and I (Jamie Benudiz) had the opportunity to be specialty counsellors for Chai Lifeline Canada’s 1st annual sleep away camp, Camp Lifeline Away. We were able to lead and mentor boys aged 8-12 who live with a family that has severe illness.

This past February, we lost our older brother Jesse. In his last year he battled and overcame brain cancer during COVID-19. Throughout his treatment we were by his side and had to adjust our living conditions in order to maintain safety in our household. Each day Jesse turned a negative into a positive. He made chemotherapy look fun! In addition, Jesse was extremely passionate about kids getting the ‘camp experience’ and learning how to swim.

Since his passing we have been able to start a foundation called the ‘JESSESTRONG’ Foundation where all proceeds have been dedicated to sending kids to camp and ensuring kids learn how to swim! We adjusted during the pandemic and offered private swimming lessons and recently held our first annual golf classic tournament. Our hard work and support from the surrounding community led to our success of raising $50,000 in support of JESSESTRONG and Chai Lifeline Canada. More information on Jesse and our foundation can be found at our website jessestrong.ca.
When we were informed about Camp Lifeline Away, we were ecstatic to volunteer and be able to provide campers with a fun-filled week! Justin and I grew up going to camp and knew what fun we were missing out on working full time jobs throughout our summers. Within 24 hours of this being brought to our attention we informed our bosses and took a week off.
Throughout our week at camp we were able to reason with the campers as we understood what challenges they may encounter on a daily basis being at home with someone in critical care or a passing of a family member. We were able to orchestrate events and games for the campers to ensure they had the time of their lives.
We want to thank Chai Lifeline Canada for giving us this opportunity to be ourselves and mentor these campers and remind us how much fun we have at camp. We can’t wait for next summer where we hope to mentor and provide campers with the full fun camp experience. #CampLifeline2k21 💙  #StayBlessed #StayBreezy
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Chai Lifeline Canada is grateful to our friends Camp Shalom for inviting us to make their special place on Lake Muskoka ‘home’ for Camp Lifeline Away. Special thanks to the Stephen and Shelly Arbib Foundation for their generous sponsorship of Camp Lifeline Away.

If hearing about Jamie and Justin’s week at Camp Lifeline Away has inspired you to share your talents and passion with Chai Lifeline Canada as a volunteer, explore the many opportunities available here.