Camp changes lives for a family strugging
About five years ago, in a quiet town in New Mexico, a Lance Langowski’s father committed suicide. His mother, Audrey Gallas, said Lance began to attend the Children’s Grief Center there as well as Camp Shaver in Albuquerque for five years in a row. Just as he was winding down his time and starting to heal from the death of his father, his oldest brother and his cousin were robbed at gun point. His oldest brother survived, but his cousin did not. Lance and his mother were not only having to deal with the pain of yet another death in their family, but his mother was now having to face many hardships that families of murder victims must deal with—trials, hung juries, prison sentencing hearings. It was all too much for their family to bear alone, so they moved to Mobile to be with Lance’s grandparents. Upon moving, Lance’s mother had to take a significant pay cut as well as endure significant expenses in traveling back and forth for legal reasons. While the state is supposed to re-imburse her for travel expenses at a later time, she, for now, has to incur them on her own. As a sixth grader, Lance was already at a tough age, let alone his having to move to a city so far away and unfamiliar as well as dealing with tremendous loss. She was very concerned about finding a camp like Camp Chaver in Albuquerque to help him get through the summer, but her local Y in Mobile did not have one. One day, in the mail, arrived the Camp Chandler brochure from our YMCA. She said that brochure was a God-send for her. Lance thrived at camp. He thoroughly enjoyed his experience. He said,
“I thought it [camp] was really amazing. Everyone was really friendly, it had really good energy. I thought the campers were very nice and the counselors, they were good leaders. When I first got there I felt very welcome by everybody.
I honestly completely forgot what was happening outside of camp in my personal life, with all the activities going on and all the quick friends that I made.
I am very grateful for all the people who helped me with the scholarship to get me to camp. It really means a lot to me that people did that just to make me happy or just a kid in general.
I hope that I can come every year to Camp Chandler and hopefully I can be a counselor there and do all the great things that they did to help me.”