Every child deserves a chance to experience the joy of taking part in childhood games and making best friends. For children stricken with cancer, extra planning is required to make sure they, too, can participate in the traditional activities that other children enjoy. A child’s oncology camp provides the environment to make lasting friendships, while addressing the child’s medical needs.
Look for a day camp if your child is not yet ready to spend the night away from home. Although these are not always listed as oncology camps, they provide services for special-needs children. Call your local Chamber of Commerce to see if one is nearby that encourages children with cancer to attend.
Contact the Children’s Oncology Camping Association (COCA) for information about camps, fees and the extent of services they provide. Camps in the COCA network provide monitored activities and comply with a high standard of care (see Resources below).
Look over camping guides and resources with your child to choose a camp that appeals most to him. Oncology camps provide as much entertainment as possible for children who can’t participate in strenuous physical activity. Gentle horses for riding and supervised water activities top a child’s list of desired features.
Organize an oncology camp if one does not exist in your area. COCA publishes a start-up guide, designed to help you determine your objectives and the strategies needed to achieve them (see Resources below).
Inquire about financial assistance if your child cannot afford the camping fee. Most, if not all, oncology camps offer scholarships for families already financially-drained by the medical costs associated with cancer.