Camp John Marc
824 Swiss Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75204
(214) 360-0056

South of Fort Worth, on the edge of the Hill Country, more than a hundred children are enjoying summer camp.

While summer camp might not seem like an unusual summertime activity, this is a special group of kids. Most have spent their lives in hospitals. Camp John Marc is for Cook Children’s Hospital patients.

Van Davis is an 8-year-old who’s had five attempted bone marrow transplants. 

Van is very small for his age because he has anemia that prevents normal growth and he’s not alone.

“These are kids with chronic illness,” explained Dr. Joann Sanders. “They have decreased self esteem. They have body changes they’re trying to deal with. They have mortality issues that they’re dealing with.”

At the camp, kids learn to cook, craft and are encouraged to challenge themselves. Just a few days earlier, most of the young people attending the camp had never been fishing.

This week they’re telling fish stories. “It was big… this big!” Van described his catch using his hands.

Brothers and sisters of the patients are invited to stay at the camp, too. Camp organizers say often siblings can feel excluded since so much attention is paid to the ill child. But at the camp it gives them a chance to connect with their family again.

“It means a lot. It’s nice to know that he’s able to do things now and he’s not just having to stay at the hospital,” said Van’s brother De’Marcus Wilson. “I know for him it was boring, just being up there at the hospital all the time. So now, he’s out here having fun.”

For everyone involved the reward is tangible. “These are kids we don’t see smile a lot in the hospital. So it’s great for us, but for them it’s something they take home with them and they keep that going through the year,” Dr. Sanders said with satisfaction.