From ages 5 to 18, with personalities and interest as varied as they come, our campers share two things in common: they have serious illnesses, and incredible spirits. They are the reason Flying Horse Farms exists, and the inspiration for everything we do.

BRANDON

After his fourth camp session, 17-year-old Brandon Mock wrote in a letter to Flying Horse Farms:

“When I’m at camp, there are always fun activities designed for kids like me who can’t do normal activities at home. No matter how sick a child is, the counselors and staff make them feel normal. And that is one of the many magics of camp.”

Brandon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoma in 2007, and then had two years of chemotherapy to treat his tumor. Since then, he’s attended Flying Horse Away Camp at Double H Ranch in New York along with two summer camps, an alumni camp, and a sweater camp at Flying Horse Farms. This summer, he fulfilled a camp dream for the second time: serving as a Ranger. Recently we sat down to talk with Brandon about his experience, and we couldn’t be happier about what we heard.

Q: What does a Ranger do at camp?
A: You get to do more service work for camp. It’s cool for us older kids to do things that are reserved just for us. This year we moved some big tree stumps by the activity center, painted the Ranger Wall up at Outpost, worked on the vegetable garden, made an outdoor labyrinth, cooked and served meals, cleaned up the dining hall, and created new signs for camp.

Q: What inspired you to become a Ranger?
A: Since coming to camp the first time, I’ve become more focused on helping others— just like camp helped me. I want to give back to camp for all it’s done for me and other kids with serious illnesses.

Q: You’ve been to camp several times. What haven’t you done yet that you want to?
A: I still haven’t kissed a fish! But I did hit a card at archery for the first time last year, and this year I completed the ropes course. After that, I felt accomplished.

Q: Rumor has it you want to be a camp counselor some day. Is that true?
A: Yes. My counselors have been good friends to me, especially Skot, Grandpa, and Hopscotch. It’s definitely part of the camp experience to become close with your counselors. It’s inspired me to help other campers as I get older, too.

Q: Did you learn anything as a Ranger that you think will help you as a counselor?
A: I did! About halfway through the week, our counselors let us sit with the campers during meals. So we got to spend some time with the campers, and I definitely learned that—no matter what—campers always come first.

Q: What do you want future campers to know about Flying Horse Farms?
A: Don’t be afraid! You are going to make a lot of good friends and have a lot of fun. When I got to camp the first time, I was a little homesick, but all the people there helped me to focus on just having a great time. Now I don’t want to leave.

Q: What does camp mean to you?
A: Camp has been one of the best experiences of my life. It’s important for kids who can’t do all the things other kids can do to feel normal for a week, to not worry about their condition, and to make friends who are in the same boat.