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46 Reviews
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May 24, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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1 previous review
July 28, 2009

Having worked at several FD camps now, I cannot say enough about how they keep it simple and real to have the most positive impact. Learning to kayak is huge for the participants, but what they reall... more

May 24, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

First Descents is by far the greatest networking group for young adults with cancer! And there's the bonus of learning rad outdoor adventure skills such as whitewater kayaking and rock climbing. I happen to get this message first hand from our participants, as I work at several camps per year as "camp mom" and at each camp I attend, the consensus is overwhleming that FD is amazing and changes/touches their lives deeply! It is the greatest thing I have ever been involved with!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

No, I am not a cancer survivor, but it has also changed/touched my life as well!

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Only to get the word out more to even more young adult cancer survivors so they all can experience First Descents!!

July 28, 2009

Having worked at several FD camps now, I cannot say enough about how they keep it simple and real to have the most positive impact. Learning to kayak is huge for the participants, but what they really get from the whole camp experience is so much more. I have heard from several campers that these FD camps are the best cancer camp they have ever been to and for many, maybe the best 6 days of their life!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the campers' faces and attitudes when the camp comes to an end.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

be extremely proud of what this camp continues to offer people and of the outlook for the future of the organization.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the people...the particpants as well as all staf involved.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amaz.ing, quality people

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help more cancer victims come away with an incredible growing experience about life and love.

Ways to make it better...

there were more hours in the day to get more in and experience even more.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the desire to grow with limited funds.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

May 24, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

more


1 previous review
July 28, 2009

As one of the co-founders of this organization, I have had the amazing opportunity to see what can happen to young adult survivors when they are given the chance to "check" their cancer experiences at... more

May 24, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

This camper story says it all about this organization:

'm not really good with words, but I'm going to try. Every day since I finished treatment I woke up and told myself I was healed because it was so much easier to deny that I was still hurting than it was to admit that I probably
wouldn't be completely healed for a long time, or ever. I never spoke to anyone about my illness, not even my parents, I wanted people to treat me normally and not see me as "that girl with cancer." At FD people accepted me, and for the first time in 14 years I was able to talk about my illness, it wasn't easy but I finally feel like maybe I'm on the right track. I got to work on my fears of being underwater (I never really learned to swim because I couldn't get my central line wet when I was sick), and I met some of the most awe-inspiring, courageous, beautiful, and warm hearted people on earth. I was terrified of the graduation rapid, but just as I was going over it I felt all of the love and support of everyone at camp 61, family, friends, and that of my friend/hospital roommate who passed away when I was 7. That love and support brought me safely through the rapids, and there was a huge sense of accomplishment and freedom when I caught that final eddy. A lot of my emotional pain was washed away somewhere between the lake on the first day and running the graduation rapid. Thank you is not enough for what you and the other staff at FD have done, but I have to say thank you so so much for being so supportive and fostering an environment that allowed us to challenge ourselves, face our fears and learn from each other. I will be joining Team FD to say thank you and pay it forward, hopefully rowing a marathon. This will be the greatest athletic challenge I have ever faced, but I will draw my strength from my week at First Descents. What an amazing organization.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

In forty amazing camps in 11 years and I believe it to be the best adventure therapy camp for young adult cancer survivors.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Expand the number of programs to include more participants.

July 28, 2009

As one of the co-founders of this organization, I have had the amazing opportunity to see what can happen to young adult survivors when they are given the chance to "check" their cancer experiences at the door and get back a piece of their lives that sometimes gets forgotten. This "sense of self" is allowed to blossom through our intense (and sometimes downright scary) whitewater kayaking camp. Now in our 10th year, we have touched nearly 500 lives from all over the country and nearly everyday I get an email or a letter from past participants about how much joy they have found from their experience at First Descents whether it was through the fear and challenges they overcame to complete our week at camp or through the amazing network of survivors they have found as a result of attending camp who now have become closer than family in some cases. I think that what we provide can best be summed up by one of our recent participants from this year's camp up in Glacier National Park in Montana when she said, "I have been to many cancer camps and this is the first one that is not about the cancer." We urge any yound adult survivor between the ages of 18 and 40 to come experience the magic of First Descents and we will do everything we can to help them get "back their spirit" of life!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Every participant whether it is building confidence by kayaking big rapids or finding hope in fellow survivors.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Continue on the same track of expansion that we are now on.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Watching each and every camper grow over the course of the week from non-kayakers with reservations about life and themselves to skilled paddlers that now are ready to go back to their world and take it on!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

N/A

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Reach our goal of 1000 campers per summer and create an army of ambassadors that have understood the value of nature as well as the gift of being present in life.

Ways to make it better...

We could reach more campers per summer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Funding and finding the right mix of staff and volunteers to continue to create the magical experiences that we have now.

One thing I'd also say is that...

First Descents is THE young adult survivorship camp.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 30, 2010

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November 30, 2010

My husband and I were able to receive scholarships to attend FD's first couples retreat. Since I went through cancer when our relationship was still in the very early stages (he was just my boyfriend) it was very helpful and empowering to be around other couples with the same issues we struggled with. I did great on the white water kayaking. It was a great bonding experience for me and my husband. I think it was a great way not only to boost my self confidence but to reassure him that I was ok. FD cooked all homemade meals family style while we were there. There were so many WONDERFUL volunteers with the organization and this trip. We had an ER doctor that came down the river with us on his day off, the kayak enthusiasts who enlisted their friends to loan their boats for the week, etc.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Participated in week long kayak retreat for young adult cancer survivors

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

FD was a wonderful experience and I can't wait to go again and support their work!

September 18, 2010

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September 18, 2010

I haven't felt so alive in a long time!! You start to think the world actually only consists of what you're experiencing, like surgeries or uncertainty or loss... but then you taste mountain air and spider up a rock face and remember THERE IS SO MUCH MORE LIFE TO BE LIVED.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

a renewed passion for life.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Phenomenal. Caring and giving, without fail. Relaxed and open. Treated us as individuals, as friends, and as equals.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

August 16, 2010

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August 16, 2010

I have been involved with First Descents since 2004. I have known the founder Brad Ludden since 2001...I can tell you all from personal experience that you will not find a more committed group of people than those behind the wheel at First Descents. Spend one day in their company and you will be infused with the inspiration that they pass on to young adult with cancer and cancer survivors on a daily basis at these camps. I have spoken with dozens of cancer survivors that have attended these camps, and they all say the same thing: "one of the best experiences of my life" Brad, Chuck, Jinny, and the whole FD crew in Colorado are a personal inspiration to me as well to keep giving back and helping people in need. Join this cause, and you will feel like a new, better person...I promise you. Terry L., Montana

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the form of fundraising for campers.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

December 23, 2009

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December 23, 2009

I was a participant in one of the FD kayaking programs last summer. It changed my life. I'll never forget the connections I made with other survivors and one day I hope to be able to give back to this great organization that has given me so much!

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing! I was overwhelmed by the generosity and how much they cared about all of us.

Ways to make it better...

it had been longer :) A week was great, but I didn't want to go home!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 20, 2009

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September 20, 2009

First Descents is the most effective cancer survivor support organization I've been involved with during a career of over 30 years in oncology. Both participants and volunteers and empowered and enriched by the experience. Cancer survivors must get beyond victimhood to live full and happy lives- First Descents helps them rediscover the confident and capable person inside who may have gotten lost during the cancer journey.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

bringing renewed joy and confidence to young adult cancer survivors

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Watching many "ah-hah!" moments as participants amaze themselves. It is also always amazing to see the close bonds that quickly form and result in longlasting friendships.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Skilled and compassionate. The staff treat participants as their equals and friends- normal people who just happened to have something crappy come uninvited into their lives.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Expand to reach as many survivors as possible around the globe.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 10, 2009

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August 10, 2009

Cancer taught me about death. First Descents taught me how to live. Most valuable week of my life. I hope many others will be able to attend and benefit as I did.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

unbelievably caring and giving.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

serve all the young adults with cancer!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 31, 2009

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July 31, 2009

This program is amazing. As a benefactor of a wonderful week kayaking in Montana near Glacier National Park, I can highly recommend this program. A huge part of what makes it so great is the amazing volunteer staff. I know that this organization spends it's money wisely on providing wonderful experiences for cancer survivors. As someone said, "This is a cancer camp that's not about cancer." It's about amazing experiences, challenging yourself to do something difficult and sometimes scary, and making great friends along the way.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The smiles and laughter and triumph on the faces of the program participants after shooting a class III rapid at the end of the week.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Continue to do exactly what they are doing and find ways to make it available to more people.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The people!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Fun-loving, caring, dedicated, funny, talented, generous, lovely and inspirational people.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Offer kayaking and other outdoor challenges to cancer survivors around the world!

Ways to make it better...

I could have stayed three more weeks with these amazing people in this incredible place!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Finding places for the hoards of people who want to participate in this program.

One thing I'd also say is that...

This was one of the best experiences of a life with many great experiences!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 31, 2009

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July 31, 2009

Magical. Energizing. Peaceful. Challenging. Loving. First Descents ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite experiences. The moment I stepped off the plane and met my fellow FDers, it felt like a family. I was amazed at the instant trust each one of the campers had in the volunteers and counselors. FD gives you an opportunity to be out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in the midst of the most beautiful spots in the country. Because of my experience with First Descents, I even more grateful for my second chance at life.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The smiling faces of those returning campers and the courage gained during the week.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

get a spokesperson who is a motivational speaker and ask them to plug the FD whenever possible.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the generous, kind individuals involved. They are wonderful people with amazing hearts.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

loving, fun, hilarious, trustworthy, and genuinely interested in the well-being of each camper.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide this wonderful,memorable experience to hundreds of more campers and expand outside the United States.

Ways to make it better...

we could have stayed longer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

fundraising and awareness.

One thing I'd also say is that...

this organization is good thing and it deserves any and all recognition that comes its way.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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