Blue Skies is a ministry founded by a pediatric cancer nurse who saw families struggle through childhood cancer. Melinda’s vision was to give families a stress-free vacation and a break from treatments, hospitals, and doctors and just have fun as a family. The objective is to spoil the entire family. In addition to the child who has cancer, siblings often feel neglected, and parents are exhausted. Each guest family is assigned a host family to make sure they have what Blue Skies calls “the best week ever.” Here’s a quick overview of our week. Can you see your family doing this?
Saturday – Volunteers arrive and receive assignments which would be the care crew (taking care of family rooms including laundry, picking up, making up and turning down beds, and leaving personal notes and chocolate on pillows), rec crew (setting up for games, activities, etc.), or food crew (the hardest working crew for sure). Brooke and I were on the care crew which is hilarious since we don’t clean at home; God has a sense of humor.
Sunday – Volunteers ready guest rooms, guest families arrive, and there’s a huge opening night pool party. Each family has a cabana and picnic table at the pool, and guest condos are extremely nice (as are volunteer condos). We were excited to meet our family, the Hights – Elizabeth (mom), Maddie (15), Emaline (9), Maddox and Mason (4), (Dad Chris stayed home for work). They are a sweet and fun family seen in several of our pics. Brooke was thrilled to learn our guest family had twin four-year-old boys!
Monday – Morning: Chapel for volunteers and families, then kids choose whether to go fishing, swimming, girly girl, or rec (games) while parents attend Kindred Journey where they are able to share their stories with other families in the same circumstances and draw strength from and encourage each other; Afternoon: pool time with families; Night: Gala night for families where we literally rolled out the red carpet for them to walk on, have photos, enjoy a steak dinner followed by a LOL show with families providing the entertainment. We certainly had a lot of laughter that night!
Tuesday – Beach Day! We pack up chairs, umbrellas, floats, snacks, etc. for each family and head to the beach for a day. A local restaurant on the beach served lunch while we all enjoyed a day playing in the sun; Tuesday night was parent’s night out while we watched their kids (which for our family meant pizza and more time at the pool).
Wednesday – same morning and afternoon routine were the same as Monday; families went out on a boat around the bay (with the captains dressed like pirates who wielded squirt guns) for dinner that night, and volunteers had the night off which for my family meant SEAFOOD. Shrimp po boys make me so happy!
Thursday – Each guest family had a whole day to do whatever they wanted to do and our family went to the beach. So we went to the beach. We were perfectly paired with beach people! I don’t have any pictures from our beach day because I was happily floating out at the first sandbar with Emaline most of the morning. We had fun until the rain set in and we all went to eat pizza then swim. Thursday night was a Red, White, and Blue Skies night where we ate BBQ, had a ceremony with policemen and firefighters awarding siblings and children with cancer with medals for bravery, a parade featuring the kids, and lighting Chinese lanterns. What a great night!
Friday – repeat of morning and afternoon, pizzas delivered to rooms while families packed to go home, a slide show of the week, a balloon release, and “see you laters” because there are no goodbyes at Blue Skies. We even squeezed in a walk down to the beach.
Saturday – up early, help families pack up, quick clean up then head home. We had tired bodies but full hearts; what a great way to spend a week!
What this run-down doesn’t give justice to are the conversations that happen, relationships that are formed, and the sense of community built in a week. Does this seem like something your family would like to do? Working vacations are such a great way to give back and serve others while having fun yourself. For more on what we learned this week, check out Scott’s blog Lessons from the World of Childhood Cancer.
And on our way home we stopped at our favorite beach (Seaside) and made a quick college visit. Life is good. (T minus two weeks and counting until life in Room 128 starts back up).