Young Stollery patients take part in special summer camp
Published Sunday, August 5, 2012 5:48PM MDT Last Updated Sunday, August 5, 2012 6:42PM MDT
Kids and teenagers who have spent much of their lives in the hospital got a chance to get away at a special camp this weekend.
Twenty five campers who have undergone brain or spinal surgeries at the Stollery Children’s Hospital took part in Camp Everest over the weekend, participating in camp activities and spending time with other kids who have gone through similar experiences.
“Other camp kids don’t know what it’s like having brain surgery but these kids do because they’ve also had brain surgery so you can relate,” said camper Mitchell Moore.
“I get to meet new kids who have gone through practically the same procedure like brain surgery,” said camper Sarah Weidmann. “I get to spend time with friends I’ve been longing to see.”
This year’s event was Olympic-themed. The young campers got a chance at winning some medals by participating in Olympic-themed events like basketball, soccer and rowing.
“People underestimate kids when they have medical problems they want everything to be fair and while it needs to be fair, they all want to win something and compete and be the best at something and so we make sure everybody does well and everybody is successful but they also the edge of the competition,” said Wendy Beaudoin, Camp Everest co-founder.
They’re kept so busy that their medical needs become a forgotten part of the weekend.
“I don’t even think the campers sometimes realize that they’ve taken their meds and they’ll ask us an hour later and we’ll go no, you took them and they’ll go oh yeah, that’s right,” Beaudoin said.
“It’s so important to us that it’s just an invisible part of the camp.”
Most of the counsellors at Camp Everest also work at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
They’ve been there when most of these kids have required treatment or surgery so participating in Camp Everest is special for them as well.
“We are super inspired by the kids, their strength and their courage and if they can go 14-hour days here with medical problems then nothing in our own lives seem difficult anymore,” said camp counsellor and Stollery nurse Stacey Lambley.
“It’s inspiring. The counsellors for the most part, we don’t complain about our days after spending the weekend here. The little things are no longer the little things.”
Lambley says for some recent Stollery patients, Camp Everest has been something they’ve been looking forward to while they undergo treatment.
“Now we’re here and everyone is doing so well and they’re proud of themselves for everything they’ve accomplished,” Lambley said.
“It’s a bonding thing. It’s awesome. We’re so happy to be here and they’re so happy to be here and they don’t have to call their moms and it’s nice. A lot of the kids are super attached to their parents because of their medical issues and coming here, they’re completely independent.”
The camp is typically funded by a Pediatric Neurosurgery Fund but this year SportChek paid for the camp and provided sports equipment for the young campers.
“One of the themes is to be active and to teach the kids how with their modified abilities that they really still need to be active and I think it’s more important than the average kid,” Beaudoin said.
It’s a weekend filled with memories the young campers will keep with them for a life time.
“I like the counsellors and playing games after the day is over and pretty much everything,” said Harrison Fisher.
The Camp Everest Olympics wrap up Monday with a medal presentation and closing ceremonies.
With files from Amanda Anderson