By: Staff Writer Amrith Krishnan
10:00 PM, Friday
The final preparations have been finished, and everything is (hopefully) in place. The money is turned in, the sleeping bags and speakers are packed, and the tents and tables are loaded into the back of the van. The chaperones have been organized and the event schedule has been memorized. All that’s left to do is to get a good night’s rest and prepare for tomorrow.
8:30 AM, Saturday
I wake up and call each and every one of my ten team members to make sure that they are awake and are preparing to leave to the event. I load the back of my car with extra food, blankets, sweatshirts and sweatpants for the night, lanterns, chargers, water, lawn chairs, and an air mattress for good measure.
9:30 AM, Saturday
We arrive at the event. The whole team is checked in, registered, and given T-shirts. As captain, I have to make sure that everyone gets their volunteer and participation forms turned in, as well as coordinate the chaperones. We run to our campsite and our home for the next 24 hours. The task of setting up a 10-person tent and an “easy”-up looms before us.
10:00 AM, Saturday
The easy up has proven to be not so easy after all. Half an hour later, the team still has no idea as to which of the poles fit into which connectors, and the tent remains a mess on the ground. The opening ceremony calls us away from our struggles, and we wait excitedly as committee members give speeches. After listening to a touching speech by a cancer survivor, we cheer on survivors and caregivers in the survivor lap, and then join for an all-participant lap. We then dissipate back to our respective lots and the arduous task of setting up.
1:00 PM, Saturday
Lunch is ordered, the tent is set up, and the team sits comfortably in a circle of chairs under the easy up, talking and relaxing. Teams come by to participate in our “fight back activity”, where participants must play a game of beanbag toss and learn facts about bone marrow cancer to earn fight back points which they can use towards service hours. We buy food from various other booths around the track. The day is heating up and the easy up is the only source of shade, but the weather is beautiful and a cool breeze is blowing through the tent. Photographers come by and ask us for a team picture.
6:00 PM, Saturday
The fatigue is beginning to set in. The team has taken the last four or five hours playing basketball, walking around the track, playing fight back activities, holding a game of pick up football, and even hide and seek. The sun is beginning to go down to meet the horizon, and we go around meeting new people, sitting in their camps, and making friends.
9:00 PM, Saturday
The Luminaria ceremony is one of the most amazing experiences of the day. Here, I’m able to leave my role of team captain and simply be one star in the galaxy that is the relay for life track. The candles glow and quiet words of comfort are exchanged as we take the emotional lap around the track lined with Luminaria, paper bags with cut-out sides illuminated by candles within to depict a cancer-related message to survivors or participants. The Luminaria are beautiful.
12:00 AM, Sunday
The emotions from the Luminaria ceremony are slowly decreasing in intensity, and twenty of us talk under a softly glowing lantern. I make sure that the chaperones are organized and we have enough supervision to last us through the night. Suddenly, I realize a team member is lost. My co captain and I take half an hour to find him, just in time for the chaperone check.
2:00 AM, Sunday
We’re watching Pitch Perfect on the main stage, and I begin to feel myself losing my voice. Talking to people, organizing setup, and coordinating chaperones and teammates and ensuring that there are sufficient people walking the track throughout the night has taken a lot out of me. I can’t sleep though, it’s still too early…
7:00 AM, Sunday
I jolt awake in a lawn chair outside of the tent. I must’ve fallen asleep while listening to music with my team, and I have a quick moment of panic as I slowly figure out where I am. I spend the next hour finding my team members, who are dispersed throughout the field in different tents.
9:00 AM, Sunday
Closing ceremony is emotional and hopeful. It ends with an amazing performance, and I coordinate the clean up of the camp site and make sure that all the tents are packed up and the trash thrown away. I check out with a committee member and wait for all my teammates to leave before I leave myself, proud of the work we’ve done and happy with my success in organizing a team which raised over a thousand dollars for cancer.