Whether you encounter a Cam’s Kids Ambassador on the east coast, somewhere out west or anywhere in between, a common denominator quickly makes itself known – each shares an infectious optimism for better days ahead.
At Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ontario (previously known as the University of Ontario Institute of Technology) Caitlin Morgan embodies the qualities that her Ambassador colleagues across Canada share. There’s nothing forced or contrived to be found here. What one sees and hears, is – end of story.
“I love being part of this (Cam’s Kids),” gushes Caitlin, an Ambassador at the university where she’s a Criminology and Justice student.
“It’s the best thing I could have ever asked for. When (fellow Ambassador) Hailey (Stroud) said Cam’s Kids was coming here, I was like ‘Yup, I’m diving right in.’ I have ever since and I love it.”
Born and raised in Claremont, Ontario, located about 20 kilometres south of the Hicks family hometown of Uxbridge, Caitlin attended Uxbridge Secondary School. It was there that the seeds of her eventual foundation involvement were planted via her friendship with Vanessa Morgan, who would go on to become Cam’s Kids’ national co-ordinator. However, it was Hailey who got Caitlin directly involved with the foundation in 2017 by asking her to help out at another university.
“It wasn’t just ‘Oh, I have to volunteer somewhere,’” says Caitlin.
“It (Cam’s Kids) is more like family than a volunteer opportunity and that is why I jumped in with two feet. There was no hesitation. It was so natural and I knew so many people involved."
“I never got to be friends with Cam. He was older than me. But I remember the group of friends that Cam was a part of; that Vanessa was a part of. Seeing them at lunchtime, well, they were a force to be reckoned with.”
Cam’s Kids presence at Ontario Tech University is a force in its own right.
From humble beginnings, the school now boasts of some 12 Ambassadors. Besides running the foundation’s trademark Candy Cane and Chocolate Heart campaigns during stressful exam periods, the Cam’s Kids team staffs an information booth as part of the university’s fall and spring orientations.
“We’re mainly getting our name out there still but also making sure that we’re reading what people want and giving them what they need,” says Caitlin.
“Yes, it (Cam’s Kids) was founded in Uxbridge but it’s like a tree. Its roots are fast spreading. We had a conference call a month ago. We were talking about all the universities and colleges that are coming on board. It’s so exciting. We were the newest school but now we’re not.”
As is the case for many Ambassadors, Caitlin brings her own experience with anxiety to the table.
“I was blessed,” she says, crediting her “amazing parents” for their support.
“But if you’re sitting by yourself, in your room, anxious and not knowing what that means, and you don’t know who to reach out to, well, that is the scariest part of having any kind of anxiety. Go outside for a walk and see how nature will affect your mood. For me, that was the biggest thing…surrounding myself with positives.”
Planning to “definitely be involved” with Cam’s Kids in some capacity after her schooling is done, Caitlin’s hope for the foundation’s future is rooted in its rapid growth to date. She adds the Hicks family provides all the inspiration she needs.
“Seeing them all in one place, like at the golf tournament, as a family, smiling and laughing, turning a situation that nobody ever wants to go through into a positive message that changes other’s lives, is an inspiration to not only the Ambassadors but to anyone who knows their story.”