Reality Edwards and Lauren Bellflower, Co-counselors and lifelong friends
Written by: Emerson Loudenback
Lauren Bellflower was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 20 years old. Through various treatments and changes, Lauren found her way to Camp Oasis and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Camp Oasis specifically led Lauren to relationships with peers her age and younger who were also battling health issues. She says, “Living with an incurable chronic illness can leave you joyless at times, but happiness and hope are two things I have found through volunteering.”
Lauren works once a year at Camp Oasis as a counselor where she curates a week of activities and events for children who otherwise feel comfortable in their own skin and struggle to fit in. “We have campers (who) start out nervous (about the camp experience). Some have never (previously) met anybody else with their disease or ever really talked about it,” says Lauren. She particularly enjoys seeing campers as they start to open up and create bonds with counselors and with other children.
This is the seventh year Lauren will work as a camp counselor. Simultaneously she serves as a board member for the Tennessee Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation by helping with fundraising and education events. Lauren understands may never fully understand the impact of her volunteering. Regardless, the humbling and compassionate moments experienced in both settings will forever remind her she finds hope and happiness through volunteering.