The Cadet International Camporee is held only every three years. It’s a wilderness camp, and Cadets must arrive physically fit to build their own shelters and do their own cooking over an open fire.
Tyler Diekevers in front of his Camporee group’s shelter.
So when Tyler Diekevers, age 14, of Byron Center, Mich., needed an emergency appendectomy two days before camp was to begin, he was devastated. But 25 minutes before his scheduled surgery on July 25, Diekevers and his parents learned that his surgeon would be attending the Camporee as medical staff.
“His surgeon said, ‘We’ll get you taken care of. When you feel better, come on up to camp, and we’ll keep an eye on you,’” said Greg Diekevers, Tyler’s father.
“Camp started on Wednesday. By Friday, we felt he was doing all right, so we brought him up. When we pulled in, it was an unbelievable experience. They all knew who we were, and the doctors (one of whom also happened to be his primary care physician) had all been briefed by his surgeon.”
Tyler Diekevers was greeted that evening in Baldwin, Mich., by some 1,200 boys and their counselors from all over North America, who stood and cheered for him as he arrived.
For the rest of the weekend, Diekevers enjoyed activities like archery, riflery, geocaching, leather craft, tubing on the Muskegon River, a fireman’s rodeo, helping the U.S. Forest Service with a conservation project, and a trip to a fun park near Cadillac, Mich.
Special events included a team who performed feats of strength; Doug Swink, an inspirational speaker; a Glenn Bulthuis concert; and a radio-controlled model airplane show.
On Sunday more than 2,000 family and friends joined the Cadets for a worship service and camp tour. The final evening of camp the Cadets endured a large thunderstorm that dropped 6 to 8 inches of rain, which created a river where the worship service had been. The river washed out a gravel road and caused a few transportation problems, but everyone made it out of camp safely.
That rain was nothing compared to the deluge dumped on the Camporee three years earlier, in Ontario, when organizers were forced for safety reasons to close down the Camporee early and campers were evacuated to an arena in a nearby town.
The next Camporee is slated for 2014, to be held near Lacombe, Alberta.