Unique camp offers a respite for young local hospital patients

By  | 

BURTON, Texas (KWTX) More than 100 young McLane Children’s Hospital patients with cancer or blood disorders are spending a week at summer camp, free of the restrictions associated with their illnesses.

(Photo by Megan Vanselow)

The children boarded buses Sunday for the nearly two-hour trip to Camp for All in Burton in Washington County west of Brenham complete with a large motorcycle escort.

They’ll spend six days at what the hospital is calling Camp Dreamcatcher.

"We are able to see them as normal kids,” Camp Dreamcatcher Director, Jenny Damron said.

“They’re not in a hospital bed, they're not hooked up to chemotherapy, they are out riding horses and swimming and canoeing and doing ropes course,” he said.

Camp for All partners with dozens of nonprofit organizations to split the costs of campers’ stay and hosts groups from all over the world.

"We can get anybody up a climbing wall and down a zip line regardless of their challenges because all of our activities are made so that there are multiple ways to do each activity," Camp for All President and CEO Pat Sorrells said.

Sorrells says a sense of togetherness is a goal of the camp, along with showing the campers that their disabilities do not define who they are.

This is the 21st year McLane Children’s Hospital has taken patients to the camp.

Doctors say many of the young patients talk about their experiences from camp all year long, eager for the next trip.

Erika Roberts has been going to the camp for 11 years.

"I consider it my second home,” she said.

“If somebody would ask me to go to Disneyland or camp like without a doubt I would've been like ‘camp let's go,’" she said.

Roberts was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, which is cancer of the eye, when she was 3-months-old.

Doctors tried to save her eye, but were unable to do so.

She wears a prosthetic eye, as well as hearing aids after a rare side effect of the chemotherapy left her with hearing loss.

"What we've been through has brought us closer together." Roberts said.