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Torri’s Camp Journey

By Elizabeth McCurry
May 25, 2021

From Camper to Camp Staff

Campers, counselors, volunteers, interns, and year-round staff all come together to make the Victory Junction experience so special, and Torri Derks can attest to this from a unique perspective. Before joining VJ as a full time member of the camp program team, Torri was a camper, summer counselor, volunteer, and an intern with REACH, Victory Junction’s hospital outreach program. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Torri and learn more about her Camp journey.

How did you find out about Victory Junction?
At sixteen I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I had a patient advocate who had been involved with Camp. She introduced the idea and helped me sign up for my first young adults weekend.

What years were you at Camp?
I was a camper in 2007, 2008, and 2009. I worked summer staff in 2010, 2011, and 2014. I interned fall of 2014 with the REACH program. And I have even volunteered over the years between all of these.

Torri (top center) with her fellow lifeguards at Victory Junction in 2014.
Torri (top center) with her fellow lifeguards at Victory Junction in 2014.

What’s your favorite Camp program area?
Boating and Fishing! What summer camp doesn’t have them? The simplest of activities, but some of the best memories and conversations happen while waiting for Sikapotat or on a boat.

In honor of Cabin Chat here at VJ, what is your favorite question and how would you answer it?
If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would it be? Lime Skittles. They are the best Skittle ever made and need to come back. If anyone from Skittles is reading this, you know where to send them!

What do you view as your biggest accomplishment in life so far?
Honestly, working at Camp full time. This was a dream when I first started working summers here. I wanted to be able to create experiences at Camp for kids and families to help them the way Camp helped me and my family. The idea that the dream I had at nineteen years old is now my everyday reality is still something I have to pinch myself every day to make sure it’s real.

Do you have a favorite quote or passage that helped you on your journey back to Victory Junction?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” – Mark Twain

What does Camp mean to you?
A place where kids get to be kids. No matter the camp, you see kids making new friends, trying new activities, and being able to leave whatever their real world is behind. And I think that is amplified here at Victory Junction. VJ allows kids and families to try to leave their real worlds behind and meet others who understand what they go through and find acceptance for who they are.

Torri participating in a special ceremony with other camp volunteers.
Torri participating in a special ceremony with other camp volunteers.

As Torri continues her journey at Victory Junction, she is excited to meet campers and families, and in her new role as the Program Support Manager, she is looking forward to creating Camp magic for so many kids yet to come.