Until There’s A Cure, There’s Camp Journey
State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant helps non-profit
For most, going to camp is about getting away from home. But for kids fighting cancer, it can be about getting back to the life they knew before disease.
Just ask Ryan “Shipwreck” Shupe. He has been at Camp Journey, a special camp in Idaho tailored to the needs of pediatric cancer patients, for 11 years – one of those years as a camper himself.
At the age of 10, Ryan was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. While that can be difficult to deal with as kid, Ryan found some relief when was introduced to Camp Journey. “Camp helped remove those barriers I faced between being a kid with a disease and just being a kid,” he said.
A camp counselor for the past decade, Ryan watches on as 6 year-old Micah Woertink and his friends climb rope courses, swim and enjoy group activities with other kids their age going through the same thing.
This is a much welcome change from the hospital environment Micah is used to, says his mother Grace. “It’s definitely a reward for all of the junk he’s been through,” she said. “He’s so excited to be here and already can’t wait until next year.”
A community of hope, a safe environment
Camp Journey provides a community of hope where children diagnosed with cancer, both on and off treatment, can leave their worries behind. For one week they can enjoy a fun-filled outdoor camp experience tailored to their needs. What makes the camp unique is its entire medical team of pediatric oncology nurses and doctors who are on site at all times to take care of any medical needs. The kids can fully experience the outdoors in a safe environment.
“For us to be able to see that child in a happy setting as well as in our professional setting completes the picture for us of why we love to take care of these kids,” explains Ruth “Rowdy” Seignemartin, R.N ., Director of Nursing at Camp Journey.
The other thing Camp Journey provides is opportunity. Cancer is an expensive disease. Families are often hard-pressed to pay for an experience like that at Camp Journey.
“Coming up with money to send your child to camp is probably something most parents couldn’t do,” says Kari “Kool” Allen, Camp Journey Camp Director, “so we find the funding elsewhere so parents don’t have to worry about it.” The camp runs on 70-80 volunteers like Ryan, and funding from grant programs like State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist.
This year State Farm awarded Camp Journey $25,000 to help give kids the opportunity to spend a week in the outdoors, participating in typical camp activities while making friends who understand and share their situation.
During their time at camp, these kids develop independence and confidence, learn new skills and make memories to last a lifetime. As Kari says, “Until there’s a cure, there’s camp!” Learn more about Camp Journey and how you can help at the camp’s website.