August 8, 2006
Several different camps are available during the summer for kids whose lives have been affected by cancer, whether it the children themselves who were sick, or a sibling. But there hasn't been a camp in Virginia for children whose parent have had or have cancer, until now.
"We've been riding horses, doing arts and crafts, climbing the rock wall, swimming in the pool," said camper Gina Hinojosa.
Gina is one of 16 campers attending Camp Kesem at Camp Holiday Trails this year. They do all the fun stuff like any other camp, but this one is a bit different. All the kids have a parent who have either had or have cancer. This makes it the first camp of its kind in Virginia.
"Our goal is to bring these kids together who are facing similar challenges. Bring them together to grow and to share an awesome experience which is camp," said camp director Matt Lucido.
One of the ways they do this is by holding "cabin chats,” so if kids want to talk about what's going on with their families they can.
Each camper passes a flashlight around and "You have to...say something about your pets or say something about your family," explained camper Tahlia Tutt.
"We don't force kids to talk about cancer. If they want to talk about baseball or ponies, we talk about baseball or ponies. But if they want to talk about their mom or dad, we listen," said Lucido.
The whole experience is all about simply having a good time.
"My favorite thing to do so far is everything," said camper Corey Newcomb.
"Riding the horses," added Tutt.
Camp is much fun, it may help to keep their minds off of whatever may be going on at home. Camp Kesem is free and caters to kids six years old to 13. The camp's director hopes more and more kids will be a part of it.
UVA students run Camp Kesem with money that is raised. If you're interested in donating or would just like more information, you can log onto www.campkesemva.org.