Serious Fun Honors Emma Knutson

Joshua McKissic

Peace Jam Member and SeriousFun Award Reicipient, Emma Knutson poses in front of the SeriousFun Donation Wall, a record of donations across the Loy Norrix Community to the SeriousFun Network.

Have you ever wanted to make a change for not only your community, but around the world? The SeriousFun network allows you to do just that.
Emma Knutson, a recent recipient of the SeriousFun Award for her social justice work with sick children, has already made an impact on the lives of many children and will continue to be a positive force in the lives of many still to come.
“I feel like in society, if I could change anything…kids with mental illness, like depression and stuff like that, I feel like schools kinda brush that off, they don’t take it seriously,” said Knutson when asked if there were anything she would change if given the opportunity in society and government.
The SeriousFun Network is a community organization that is “purposefully designed to foster independence, resilience and personal growth, helping children to see beyond the limits of their medical conditions and experience all that life has to offer…” according to the SeriousFun website. The manifestation of this mission comes in the form of 30 camps and programs spread across the world offering free recreational experiences to children with serious illnesses.
When you donate money to SeriousFun, you are helping nine camps in Africa, two in the Middle East, six in Asia and one in Haiti. There are also five camps in Europe and nine in the U.S. but Loy Norrix donations go to the camps in developing countries. Currently, the Loy Norrix donation drive is over, but on the SeriousFun Network website, there are many opportunities to get involved, volunteer, donate, educate yourself or help those who are ill. Donating can be a positive experience for you and the children that your funds support.
Also, Loy Norrix students and staff are multi-talented and have many skills to offer to children, as volunteers in the camps. The world needs more people like Emma Knutson, willing to dedicate their time to helping strangers, helping the sick, helping the youth, and helping our society.
When asked why she stayed in PeaceJam and continued to help the SeriousFun network, Emma Knutson, said “[I] felt like getting the opportunity to help and kinda get involved with something that had to do with helping people, would be a neat experience. I love Ms. May [PeaceJam advisor] and I love doing it.”
As a student who is aspiring to have a career in nursing some day, Knutson clearly has a strong passion for helping others.
At Camp Colors of Love, held outside of Ho Chi Minh City, children with serious illnesses have the chance to camp in platform tents, splash on slip n’ slides, paddle in canoes and enjoy a festival night. Camp Colors of Love is operated through a partnership between SeriousFun and the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Knutson plans to volunteer at the Camp Colors of Love.
When asked about her upcoming trip to Vietnam in July, Emma Knutson said, “I expect it to be very eye-opening. I feel like it’s going to be be fun at times but very hard at times because Vietnam is very different from America but I’m really excited.”
According to the 2014-2015 Outcomes Evaluations Yale University Child Study Center, 78% of parents reported an increase in their child’s confidence after attending a SeriousFun camp, 76% reported an increase in their child’s independence, and 79% reported an increase in openness to try new things after camp.
Beginning in 1988 with a camp named The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT, founder Paul Newman used the camp to create a safe environment for children with serious illnesses. By 1994, Newman had expanded the SeriousFun Network to Ireland, with a 500-acre donation from the Irish government. Newman and the SeriousFun Network founded the camp in Barretstown, which was the first camp to be located outside the U.S. Almost 15 years later, Newman’s global vision is coming full circle, SeriousFun launched a global partnership program after an earlier trip to Africa. This is exciting and empowering for sick children around the world.
For anyone debating on joining PeaceJam or the SeriousFun Network, Emma Knutson said, “Oh my goodness, do it. It’s something that a lot of people are like, ‘I’d try it or whatever,’ but you can control how much you put into it. Ms. May isn’t like you have to do this or have to do that. It’s literally all in your control, you could do just one thing a year or as much as you want. There are a lot of opportunities that look really good on college applications and just make you feel good because your doing good, so do it.”