Two years after its release, Between Two Harbors, is still garnering film festival honors as a powerful documentary, showing the immense impact the ocean therapy camp, We Are Ocean, makes on the lives of cancer patients and survivors.
At the We Are Ocean camp today, cancer patients are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone with an array of water activities like canoeing, Stand Up Paddling, surfing, sailing, and snorkeling. Located on Catalina island, campers have direct access to the ocean. Since about 58% of cancers can be controlled, treated, or prevented by exercise and beneficial nutrition, We Are Ocean focuses on educating others on the benefits of such an active lifestyle.
Since the documentary’s release, We Are Ocean has taken on significant fundraising to improve the experience of their camp. When Founder Jack Shimko experimented with creating even more camps, he realized the quality of each camp dropped. So instead of running several camps each summer, We Are Ocean is aiming to host one annual summer camp each year with sections for different age groups. Their first annual camp will be held in August of 2018.
Although the film helped share the amazing work that We Are Ocean is doing, it was a difficult decision to let the documentary team on site. Shimko assumed there would be just a small crew with some GoPros, but to his surprise, it was a full blown film production. The group turned emotional quickly, as many participants had very serious illnesses.
“For a lot of them, this camp was their hope,” Shimko said. “This is what they are holding onto when they were sitting in the chemo chair. The stuff that I witnessed personally was the connections and bonds amongst the participants. A 69-year-old male with a feeding tube is giving advice to an 18-year old that has never seen the water. This is a group that you would never be able to curate and put together.”
Shimko, a survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma himself, spent a lot of time in isolation after he kicked cancer to the curb. He hopes to encourage others to participate in activities that excite them and show cancer survivors that life is best spent with others.
“People are a lot more active, more in tune with their body and their nutrition,” Shimko said. “Most importantly, they aren’t isolated. They are continuing to talk to people on our Facebook Forum, newsletter or other ways of communication. It’s pretty cool to see these folks really come out of that isolation and live life. It might be one day at a time, but they are living life and they are doing so in a different way.”
Note: You can find the film, Between Two Harbors and learn more about We Are Ocean here.