PERU - When some hear the name "Camp Ta-Kum-Ta," Scott Moseley knows they think of the South Hero, Vt.-organization as a camp that only helps children in Vermont who are battling cancer. However, that's not the case - and Moseley knows first-hand.
The Chazy youth was diagnosed with brainstem glioma at the age of 2 and has gone to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta since he was 7 years old.
"I didn't really want to go at first ... I was scared and I didn't know what to expect," he said.
But, what he couldn't expect ended up being something that kept him coming back year after year.
"It was my birthday that day; I just turned 7," recalled Moseley. "Within that first hour, they had a birthday cake and the whole camp was singing 'Happy Birthday' to me. Ever since then, it's been full of memories exactly like that."
Now 18 years old and preparing to be a camp counselor, Moseley shared his story with the Peru Lions Club recently as the club also welcomed Camp Ta-Kum-Ta executive director Ted Kessler to tell the club more about the organization.
Kessler said Moseley's story was important for the club and for others to hear because there is a common misconception Camp Ta-Kum-Ta isn't for children outside Vermont.
"There's a lot of kids from this area who come to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta," said Kessler. "Thirty-five to 40 percent of our kids come from upstate New York."
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, explained Kessler, serves children who "have cancer or have been treated for cancer," and that are between ages of 7 and 17. The idea behind the camp is to give children a place where the stresses that come with battling cancer can be put to one side, if even for a short time.
"The day they get diagnosed, changes their life and their family's life," said Kessler. "Camp Ta-kum-ta gives them the chance to be kids again."
The annual week-long summer camp program is attended by as many as 80 children and, best of all, said Kessler, it's free for them. That's because of donations the camp receives from organizations like the Peru Lions Club, which presented Kessler with a check for $1,000 during his visit. Kessler was visibly appreciative as he thanked the club.
"We would not survive without the community behind us," said Kessler. "We're undertaking a huge program now where we're going to be going year-round, where before we used to be one week. We're putting many, many more events in for the kids. And, it doesn't come free."
Lois Roberts, a representative of the Peru Lions Club who presented Kessler with the donation, said helping organizations like Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is what being a Lion is all about.
"It makes me proud to be a Lion and that I made the choice to join the club," said Roberts. "We need to continue our community service and Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is a great place to do it."