Kids Need Camp!
We recently opened up registration for Camp Hope 2023 and the number of campers already is staggering! Many are returning excited to see their friends and the familiar campground again, and many are new campers anticipating a fun week of activities away from the gloom of treatment.
After years of offering camp, it’s become clear that not only do kids look forward to camp, they need it! It’s more than just a week of camp, it’s a life-enriching experience that provides a community, increased mental stability, and rare opportunities for our pediatric patients suffering from cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses.
Most apparent of the benefits of camp is the community it provides; a community made of patients that are all struggling with similar diagnoses and the hardships of treatment. While most patients may occasionally interact with others at the clinic, here at camp is when they can really bond. When you’re a kid, a week can seem like practically a lifetime. You’re away from your parents staying in a picturesque cabin in the woods, spending your days swimming or crafting or even zip lining. Every moment is special and the people you’re with have a huge impact on your life.
Many of our campers form lasting friendships that at the very least give them something to look forward to every summer. At the most, these friendships can provide continued communication and support throughout the year as they deal with the challenges that go along with the emotional roller coaster of cancer or sickle cell disease.
Now, this community is critical in helping young patients understand their illness. Of course, they’re educated on their diagnosis and treatment before they come to camp by their medical providers, but talking to peers who are going through something similar helps patients truly understand.
With knowledge often comes more mental stability. The knowledge that you are not alone in your fight can help kids cope during their treatment. It can decrease fear and anxiety and help them develop coping strategies after treatment by seeing how others deal with their own struggle. They learn to handle the emotional turmoil and become more independent overall.
The harsh reality is that many of our campers would normally be unable to enjoy a traditional camp experience. Some are going through treatment and require medical personnel onsite and some have physical limitations that require special accessibility. Most camps are not equipped to handle circumstances like these.
We are fully equipped to handle special circumstances and have catered our activities to suit all our campers. Here at Camp Hope, campers can go fishing, swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, and zip lining. They can participate in Carnival Night, Skit Night, and even our giant all-camp water gun fight! Then on their last day, they enjoy a farewell dance night with these people they have come to know so well. It’s truly a life-changing experience for patients that are stuck in a hospital most of their time or left out of school activities because of a physical limitation.
Most of us can look back on our own camp experiences and recall the anticipation and thrill leading up to camp, the nerves for the first few days while we tested out new friendships, and finally the utter freedom you can only really appreciate as a child away for a week of new adventures. It can be a magical experience. For the kids going through years of treatment and emotional upheaval, perhaps they need camp the most. You have the power to donate now and make this a reality for the pediatric patients in our community!