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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

July 31, 2009

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July 31, 2009

First Descents was an amazing esperience for all attending lending to continued reflection and positive life changes for all. FD brings together young adult cancer survivors with others who have been through a similar life threatening disease and gives them a place to connect and not feel alone, face fears of descending whitewater rapids (and of illness), and be in nature to heal on the emotional, mental and Spiritaul levels, in a supportive, kind, fun and playful atmosphere. I saw many volunteers give so much to others over the week-it was awesome!!!

The Great!

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

bringing healing to the participants through increased confidence in themselves and in facing fears of river kayaking which translates to decreasing life fears

Ways to make it better...

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

raise more funds and increase marketing to invite more young adults cancer survivors, and expand the camps to more diverse sports to draw in even more young adult cancer survivors.

More feedback...

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

witnessing the kindness, giving, compassion, nonjudgment and deep connections among attendees and volunteers

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

fun, spontaneous, giving, kind,creative, compassionate, supportive and nonjudgmental

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

Increase marketing to get the word out to all young adults with cancer that there is a free amazing healing opportunity for them to attend if wanted and offer the camps year round in amazing venues. Would also cater/cook to each ones food preferences

Ways to make it better...

we had air conditioning in our facility and slept better as the temps were in the 90's and hot!

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

lack of funds to pay fully for particpants to come and other expenses

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

The experience changed my life forever and I know it positively enhanced the lives of the attnedees, who went home with pride and confidence in acheiving a new skill, and feelings of connection and support from others who understand them.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 29, 2009

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July 29, 2009

I had the idea to start First Descents in 1999. After working on it for 2 years and with the help of many people, we were able to scrape together our first camp. It was then we realized we had something. Kayaking had deeply impacted my life and I believed it could do the same or more for others in need. It did. The participants who attend FD seize every opportunity we present and face the challenge of kayaking head on. By doing so, they are proving they aren't fragile because of their cancer, they're still in control of their life and they meet friends that become family.

Photos

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...

selfless and giving

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

provide adventure therapy free of charge to thousands of young adults with cancer around the world

Ways to make it better...

it never ended

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

meeting the growing demand for the programs

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

May 24, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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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

July 27, 2009

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July 27, 2009

Seeing firsthand the approach that First Descents takes to young adult cancer, via kayaking as adventure therapy, has revolutionized my thinking on how an organization can use adventure sports to give back and how effective that gift can be to each and every participant and volunteer!

The Great!

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

the enthusiasm and support of past participants for First Descents.

Ways to make it better...

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

try to bring this experience to as many people as possible.

More feedback...

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

the relationships that I have been able to develop.

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

world class instructors, proffessionals, and humanitarians.

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

change 1,000,000 lives

Ways to make it better...

I would have been able to give a million dollars.

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

fundraising for the future growth of the organization.

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

the word needs to get out, it will get out eventually and you could be a part of that! Join the cause!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 27, 2009

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July 27, 2009

I recently worked as a volunteer at a First Descents Kayak Camp for young adults with cancer. The very positive attitude, support, and encouragement seemed to provide a wonderful experience for campers and staff alike. I hope to volunteer again.

The Great!

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

the lives of the attendees, and the staff.

Ways to make it better...

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

Work and raising more dollars.

More feedback...

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

Seeing the smiles and growth in the kayaking skills of the campers.

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

most excellent.

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

reach a lot more of this group, an underserved population. We don't think of cancer in 18-40 year olds.

Ways to make it better...

The facilities weere a bit better, and the camps were better funded. These were relatively minor issues for the true value of the experience.

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

growth and fund raising.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 23, 2009

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July 23, 2009

First descents was an incredible experience, both for me as a volunteer and for the participants. Looking back at the video of the week and comparing the first tentative wobbles of the participants as they entered the current for the first time and comparing that with the footage from the end of the week where the entire group aced Graduation Rapid is very moving to me and still brings tears to my eyes because I am so proud and blessed to know everyone that I met at FD. To watch people come out of their shell and go from being scared or intimidated to enjoying things and being playful with what once scared them was amazing (and the parallels to life are obvious there too...). I think kayaking is a great thing for cancer survivors because it is a great equalizer. In paddling gear everyone just looks like a kayaker. Way to go FD!

The Great!

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

One week - participants and staff alike are transformed.

Ways to make it better...

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

try to expand the program so that more people can benefit from it, including internationally.

More feedback...

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

Personal growth is achieved organically, without putting it "on the program" - people bond through the experience of learning to paddle together and then share more about their lives. There's no "let's talk about our cancer" moment - it's not needed!

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

first rate. Lifelong friendships were made.

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

really make a difference in a lot of people's lives that need it and deserve it. I wish I had 10 million bucks to give them!

Ways to make it better...

I could have stayed longer and volunteered at a couple more camps. (My fault, not theirs...)

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

funding, of course, and replication: ensuring consistency and quality of the experience remain as high as they are now as the organization expands to include more camps than the founders can attend. They are doing a great job so far!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 13, 2009

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July 13, 2009

I have had the unique opportunity of working with First Descents since their 2nd year. I first was a fundraiser, then volunteer, director and ironically now cancer survivor! It is tough to put into words what First Descents does that other organizations cannot. FD gives a renewed hope and a sense of accomplishment that is robbed from some people that have had cancer. Cancer makes you realize the magnitude of which you rely on others....not just for self-definition....but mere existence! This camp taps into the inner core of each person who attends.....both camper and counselors alike. I can and have written long stories all about First Descents and what this camp is/can do! This place is a powerful and amazing experience that needs to be able to expand in order to touch lives of those who need it! I hope this helps scratch the surface of what an amazing camp this is.

Photos

The Great!

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

even the most shy unexposed individuals. It gets to the fabric of who we are as people.

Ways to make it better...

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

keep up the good fight!

More feedback...

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

the ability to see the camp from both sides of the fence. First as a volunteer then as a cancer survivor

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

amazing people with drive and energy second to none!

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

start to show the cancer community a new way to HEAL!

Ways to make it better...

we could control the weather:-).

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

funding needs.

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

First Descents need to be associated with cancer just as much as 'make a wish' foundation!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 8, 2009

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July 8, 2009

After my first week as a volunteer at First Descents I almost felt guilty that I had taken away so much from my time at camp. I was supposed to be helping the participants, young adults with cancer aged 18-34, and they ended up changing my life. The participants arrived at camp and immediately jumped into the FD programming. Most campers arrived at camp ready for anything. Others were guarded, shy and not so sure about the whole kayaking as treatment program. The best part was that they all left empowered and ready to deal with whatever life had to hand them. They have inspired me to appreciate my life, not sweat the small stuff and most importantly, raise as much money for First Descents as possible. Over the past two years my husband has raised almost 200K for First Descents. Since my week at camp, I have taken on a number of admin. jobs for FD that I can do from my home in Maryland. All the volunteering I do for them is better than any sales commission that I have ever received. The feeling of giving back to this amazing organization is indescribable. The impact First Descents has on its participants is truly unbelievable. I feel lucky to be a part of the FD family.

The Great!

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

the participants. Many of them credit FD with changing their lives, and helping them to continue to battle and beat their cancer. Changing lives is no easy task and FD manages to do this in a 5 day span. Even the most resistant participants leave renewed.

Ways to make it better...

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

More feedback...

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

the feeling of belonging to a family. Not only the people I attended camp with, but other campers who I have met through my volunteering. We have all been touched in a way that bonds us as friends. And as soldiers fighting against cancer together!

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

indescribable. Energetic, warm, inclusive. They have the ability to teach kayaking and listen to the camper stories at the same time. Campers don't get pity, they get encouragement.

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

send thousands of young adults with cancer to First Descents camps and change their lives. Young adults (18-34) have had no increased survivorship in the past 20 years. First Descents has been proven to cure participants.

Ways to make it better...

It could not have been better!! I do not have cancer, but I left camp a changed person.

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

raising money. FD is a small grass roots organization. It needs money to raise awareness that young adults with cancer (18-39) is the most under served age group in the cancer world. And with more money they can offer camp to many more who will benefit

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

FD does an amazing job and the changes the organization has made in just the last year are unbelievable. I am so lucky to be a part of this organization. I would do just about anything to help them get the 10 million bucks. Just tell me or ask me!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 6, 2009

more

July 6, 2009

First Descents was first brought to my attention in Vail, CO and I was an admirer from the sidelines. Little did I know it would be part of our daughter's experience a little over a year ago! Since then my husband and I volunteered at a hugely successful fund raiser, meeting the founders Brad and Corey who are totally committed and the coolest guys on the planet. FD was empowering, rewarding, a learning and teaching experience, humbling, and positive in a world which was being viewed negatively because of the cancer diagnosis.

The Great!

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

their free week long kayaking experience turning a negative cancer experience into a positive "can do" experience, empowering participants with new rewards.

More feedback...

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

meeting Brad and Corey. They show their love freely and give willingly, encouraging others to do the same. They are heros.

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

Selfless, giving, upbeat, positive, energetic, organized.

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

spread their services globally giving cancer patients a once in a lifetime experience....no strings attached and an opportunity to repeat. Participants have a chance to think of something other than their diagnosis with others in the same situation.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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