There are many camp programs designed especially to help meet the needs of children with chronic and critical illnesses, such as brain tumors, and for children who have family members experiencing illness. A summer camp experience can be a terrific way to enjoy a normal childhood experience and meet other children who are coping with and surviving the challenges of cancer.
Many camps will meet the specific needs of your child during or after treatment, can provide a great deal of medical support (including intravenous medications), and will require a medical release from the child’s physician. Some camps also provide places for siblings to attend! Generally there is no cost to attend these camps, although the family may need to provide transportation to and from the camp. Some camping opportunities you may want to explore are listed below. These camps fill up early, so plan well in advance!
Camp Carefree provides a free, one week camping experience for youngsters from North Carolina and neighboring states with specific health problems and disabilities. The program also includes camps for well siblings of chronically ill or disabled children and a week for those with a disabled or a seriously ill parent.
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710
Camp Kaleidoscope, located near Henderson, NC, is intended to give a residential camping experience to children ages 7 to 16 who are treated at Duke and whose medical needs are too demanding for them to participate in a regular camp. The camp is staffed by professionals associated with Duke’s Department of Pediatrics. No fee is charged. A recommendation by your Duke physician is required.
Camp Kesem North Carolina
Camp Kesem North Carolina is a free one week, sleep-away summer camp for the children of cancer patients. It is open to children ages 6-16 years old. Camp Kesem is coordinated and staffed by student volunteers from Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professional Support counselors from the Duke University Medical Center’s Cancer Patient Support Program, and registered nurses from the University of North Carolina Hospital and Duke University Medical Center also volunteer to help make camp happen each year. Camp is held at the Keyauwee Program Center south of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Camp Reflections, Hospice of Wake County
Reflections is a day camp for grieving children and teens (ages 5-18 years) and their families. It includes activities such as music, arts and crafts, and other fun family activities. Grief related activities are conducted in small and large group settings, and are led by trained facilitators. Call 919-828-0890 for more information.
Camp ReLEAF, Duke Community Bereavement Services
Camp ReLEAF is an overnight weekend bereavement camp for children in kindergarten through eighth grade who have experienced a loss due to death. The camp is held in Hillsborough, NC, at New Hope Camp and Conference Center. There is a registration fee for each child and registration is required. Call 919-644-6869 for more information.
151 West 30th Street
New York, New York 10001
For kids who are facing cancer or other serious illness, Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special provide the experience of a lifetime! Located on the 125 acre Jack and Moishe Horn Campus in Glen Spey, NY, each of these unique camps is an oasis of carefree fun and emotional rejuvenation amidst the arduous struggle with illness and pain.
Camp Sunshine is a family camp that offers fun, support and a chance for connections with other families, as well as members of your own family. They specifically see the need for families to have a respite together away from the strenuous efforts of fighting a serious illness of a child.
Children's Oncology Camps Association, International (COCA)
COCA is an international assembly of people providing camping programs for children with cancer. Its many member camps serve a broad range of special needs populations, but all work with pediatric oncology patients. There are more than 100 camps in the United States, including Camp Care near Charlotte, NC, and the renowned Hole in the Wall Gang in Connecticut. There are also several member camps from the Canadian provinces and several camps located on faraway continents such as Australia and New Zealand. Call the toll free number and request information about a camp near you.
Comfort Zone Camp
Comfort Zone Camp is the nation’s largest bereavement camp. Comfort Zone Camps are offered free of charge to children ages 7-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. The camps are held year-round in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia. Families can apply for financial assistance to help with travel expenses. Comfort Zone Camp has hosted campers from over 40 states, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Call 804-377-3430 for more information.
Victory Junction Gang Camp
Located just outside of Greensboro, NC, Victory Junction Gang Camp strives to “enrich the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses by creating camping experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound.” It was co-founded by Kyle Petty and is a “Proud Charity of NASCAR.”