The Bigler family joined the Camp Online Family Camp as their first encounter with Roundup River Ranch, and they were surprised by how much fun they could have as a family, even in a virtual setting. This family of four, mom Myllisa, dad Steve, and sisters Maya (14), and Krislynn (11) all signed in and got their dance on for a weekend of fun, silliness, and joy!
Maya has a chronic disease, microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), which results from blood vessel inflammation that can lead to damage to organ systems. Areas most commonly affected by MPA include the kidneys, lungs, nerves, skin, and joints. Maya first began experiencing medical challenges at the age of five, and by nine years old, after being hospitalized for several days, she was diagnosed with MPA.
It has been a difficult and scary journey for their family as the medications and treatments really take a toll on Maya. In 2018, after a biopsy on Maya’s kidneys, they discovered that she will ultimately need a kidney transplant. “Maya is a really resilient and tough kid, but her treatments and medications have been really harmful. She has had to undergo chemo-like treatments where she lost her hair and has suffered from many other side effects. Not only is it difficult physically and emotionally to go through this as a family, it also can be so hard socially to make friends and for people to understand,” shared Myllisa.
The Biglers are constantly navigating how to balance the care and medical needs of Maya with the support and attention for her sister, Krislynn.
The family learned about Roundup River Ranch through Maya’s doctor, when they inquired about resources to support her mental health and well being. Myllisa shared, “Maya has a few close friends, but it is hard for them to understand what she is faced with having a serious illness, and it has been particularly difficult to be so isolated during these times.” When their doctor suggested virtual camp with Roundup River Ranch, they thought they would give it a try.
The Bigler family didn’t know exactly what to expect through Camp Online Family Camp but they were open to giving it a go. “It was a nice break from our routine and a good reminder that we need to laugh more together, dance more, and just be silly. No one is judging you, it is a place you can really just be yourself. We don’t need to take everything so seriously and camp really helped us find that together.” Virtual camp not only provided a space for them to have fun and relax, it was also good to know there are other families who are on a similar path and can understand what they are going through.
They look forward to getting to continue to participate in Roundup River Ranch’s online programs and are particularly excited to join for future adult-only Café au Lait nights. They would definitely recommend Camp Online to other families who could benefit from these programs, especially if on-site camp programs are not available or don’t work for a family’s particular needs. “Even when camp on-site resumes, it will be so helpful to families who are unable to go to camp because their child is in the hospital or medically unable, to still be able to attend online. We look forward to the opportunity when we can join in person and meet other families in person, but this was a really great experience and one that we are so grateful to have taken part in.”