What is there to do when you're cooped up for the summer as a sick kid? We are fortunate at the Ronald McDonald House to have an excellent relationship with Camp Korey, a non-profit camp in Carnation which offers a summer camp for kids with serious medical conditions. Since many of our kids are not well enough to leave the House, Camp Korey has generously been bringing summer fun all year round to the House through their "Camp to You" program since 2014.
Camp Korey's activities inspire joy in all of the kids around the House from toddlers to teens. They offer two separate activity programs. Their Youth Program is designed to be inclusive of whoever decides to take part that day, with activities that can be easily adapted for kids of various ages, physical ability, and developmental stages. The Youth Program includes all kinds of crafts, games, storytelling opportunities, and much more. Activities like making slime are always a favorite! As part of a Mad Science themed day, camp leaders helped kids with an experiment to make "Elephant Toothpaste" from child-safe, non-toxic substances. So many kids were excited about the toothpaste that the camp made several batches throughout the day in various colors. This week, Camp Korey is at the house for a camp that will feature "paint drumming," which promises to be fun for all ages! The camp also provides a special place for kids in the House to meet each other, develop friendships and grow from each other's experiences. It can be scary for kids to move to a new place and this is the ideal program to help them branch out and get to know their neighbors.
Additionally, Camp Korey offers Teen Program nights at the House, which is for kids 12 and older. Teen nights include pizza, crafts, and a chance for teens in the House to connect with each other. Willow Weitz-Clancy, the Camp to You Program Manager, says that this program "really allows teens their own space and the emotional freedom to be themselves." In August, teens got to make their own aquariums from uniquely shaped jars, tiny sea creature figures, and all kinds of beach themed bits and bobbles. Another popular Camp to You with our teens has been the "Glow Camp" which featured crafts with glowsticks, glow in the dark paint, and even some glow-in-the-dark bowling.
However, Camp to You is much more than fun and games; they focus on engaging and empowering kids. When a child is in a medical setting, they often lose their control over many things in their lives and Camp Korey gives kids a chance to make their own choices through child-led activities. Whether this is through crafts that are entirely a child's own creation or through games which spark a child's imagination, the camp's goal is to promote joy and individual expression. The activity leaders are skilled at mixing in whatever a kid is excited about into the day's activities. For example, if a child loves unicorns but the theme of the day is "Under the Sea," camp leaders find opportunities to make "underwater unicorns" a part of a craft activity. Additionally, the camp leaders work with kids to tell stories to get the creative juices flowing. For example, they might ask kids to tell them a story about a figure in their drawing or ask them to imagine who might live in the cardboard castle they are crafting. It's this collaborative, creative, and welcoming environment that helps brings kids out of their shells. Weitz-Clancy explains that recently, a mother at the House told her that these camps mean the world to her son because he is able to completely be himself in this positive environment. We're immensely grateful for Camp to You, which is provided to the house free of charge. You can learn more about Camp Korey and their many programs at: http://campkorey.org/.