June 28, 2018
By: Leah Kocse
I recently had the opportunity to check out a local camp, similar to other camps, but also unlike any other. The camp is called Camp Smile, and it's held in the summertime for local children with cancer, survivors, and their siblings, on the grounds of Cedar Crest College in Allentown. The one week camp is made possible by the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley and the Coco Foundation- with financial support from the Air Products Foundation, Bill Sugar Memorial Fund, and Ai Orthodonics- so families don't have to pay for a thing.
Just like other camps, there's lots of fun to be had here. Campers take part in the traditional actives like sports, swimming, arts and crafts and theater, making this a normal experience as possible which is the most important part of camp. You have to keep in mind that some of these children are undergoing treatments, so getting out of that hospital environment and out into the sunshine is a great way to boost positivity which is essential for anyone battling this horrible disease. Then you add their siblings into the picture, which makes camp even more fun as a shared experience, and also gives mom and dad a little break too. During the week, the campers were treated to other various actives. On this particular day, children were taking part in a karate class, pottery class, and yoga, all of which was more than what I ever did at my summer camps as a child, so I was a bit jealous :)
I have to say, I was having fun just watching them enjoy their day, and I learned something interesting when I spoke with some of the kids and parents.
For some of these cancer warriors, they spend every minute of every day with their parents, so going to camp was a big change that some of them were a bit nervous about doing for the first time, but when they did try it out for a day, they never wanted to leave! Parents here also have the comfort of knowing that their kids are being cared for by many other parents of cancer warriors, and teens who are either siblings of these warriors, or cancer survivors themselves, who volunteer at the camp as counselors. This gives many parents comfort in knowing that their children are being looked after by people who know how to take care of their needs- and this is what allows everyone to just enjoy the week! After all, having fun is what every child deserves in the summertime, and their parents too!
If you would like more information about camp, or would like a donation, you can do so by going online at pcflv.org