Friday, February 15, 2008

Summer Camps for Children with Cancer and Blood Diseases

One of the worst parts of childhood cancer is how it robs my patients of their youth. They can’t go to school, they’re isolated from their friends, they see more pain, suffering, and death than children really should. We say they become “mature beyond their years” or “wise beyond their years,” but I wonder if this is just something we say to make ourselves feel better… as if maturity and wisdom are the silver lining within the cloud of lost innocence.

But we do things to try to salvage a sense of normalcy. One of the many ways we try to do this is through a week-long summer camp called ‘Camp Sunrise’. With the help of the American Cancer Society, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and Sinai Hospital (the three centers in Baltimore that treat kids with cancer) all run ‘Camp Sunrise’ every summer. Our doctors, physicians assistants and nurses run the “Funny Farm” (the infirmary), and our kids come and play. For one fun-filled week, they get to be normal kids again. In an environment that normalizes their lives. It’s an amazing experience.

Pediatric cancer is not the only disease that interferes with childhood. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (and if you don’t know the reference, you MUST see this movie) provides a summer camping experience for kids with a variety of illnesses, including cancer and blood disorders such as immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). In an email this week Craig Butler, from the ITP Foundation, asked me to help him publicize this camp experience. I’m happy to oblige.

Registration for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp ends February 29. If you are interested or know someone who can participate, click here. Or if you’re interested in Camp Sunrise, click here.

Hopefully, I’ll be attending Camp Sunrise this year. I can’t wait! I’ll share pictures (with the permission of the kids and their parents, of course).


From the Camp Sunrise Website

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also have been a counselor at a camp for children with leukemia and other blood cancers. It's called Camp Periwinkle in east Texas, and was the best experience of my life. Although I'll be a non-traditional student, I am hoping to go back to school to get my PA or MD after I finish my pre-reqs. For one week, you almost forget these kids are or were sick. They have a spirit about them that all us healthy folks would envy.

Doctor David said...

Anonymous, you are so right. The spirit at Camp Sunrise is amazing!

outre said...

Are you planning on attending as a medical staff or more of a counselor?

I've been told I should be a counselor at one of the camps for kids with neurofibromatosis... so the kids get exposed to someone 'older' with NF leading a 'normal' life. I have seen way too many people letting NF define what they are rather than NF being just a small part of them.

But the dates are right around when I have a professional association conference that I love attending.

Doctor David said...

Outre, that's always the challenge, isn't it? I haven't been to Camp Sunrise in a few years because the dates have conflicted with a family vacation. It should work out this year, and I'll be medical staff.

Jackie Champion said...

Hello! Keep it up! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about summer camps. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about summer camps.
Well, I would just like to share that in other summer camps, the church of Sweden provides confirmation camps, usually combined with outdoor life.
We specially designed a week-long experience to introduce kids to the basics of light, color, lenses, and mirrors through fun, hands-on activities.

Summer Camps Wenham MA