ANNA (CBSDFW.COM) – What’s been a total blast for kids with cancer at Camp Discovery in Kerrville is now just as much fun closer to home.
Campers themselves, all patients at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, renamed it Camp I Hope after moving this year to a new location in Anna. The move was necessary to allow more patients to attend and enabled the camp to expand to include siblings.
Ninety-eight kids –– three-fourths of whom have cancer (the rest are siblings) –– are spending a week swimming, rowing, climbing and doing arts and crafts; a welcome break from frequent hospital visits.
“Normally I’d probably be at the hospital right now,” said 7-year-old camper Molina Noll. “But here I don’t have to. I only have to get my blood checked once.”
Camp I Hope also provides an emotional escape and a safe place to share sadness, too.
“It gives them a chance to grieve,” said Deb Echtenkamp, pediatric nurse at Medical City Dallas and camp director. “Because children will protect their parents and not always tell them some of the feelings they have bottled up inside. They, at such a young age they’re facing their own mortality. And they’re thinking about those things.”
But mostly, camp is camp: a crazy week for those who’ve been fighting a grown-up battle, to feel like kids again.
Camp I Hope is the brainchild of Medical City Children’s Hospital and staffed by Medical City employees and volunteers. It also pays for the program.
“As far as we’re concerned,” Echtenkamp, said. “Camp is a part of treatment because it gives them that boost to make it through the year.”