A JOYFUL PLACE ECU hosts summer camps for children with chronic diseases

This week, the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University is hosting summer camps on the banks of the Neuse River for approximately 75 children with chronic diseases.

Camp Rainbow is designed for children living with cancer or hemophilia. The first daylong event was held in 1982 at a local Greenville park, inspired by a patient who told an ECU physician that he was unable to attend summer camp because of his disease.

Camp Hope was created for children with sickle cell disease and began in 1991 at Camp Don Lee. It was named by two patients who said the camp should be called Camp Hope “because going to camp gives us hope that we will be okay.”

Children who have lost siblings to these diseases are also welcome at Camps Rainbow and Hope.
“I have been blessed to witness thousands of children who have cancer, sickle cell disease and hemophilia attend camp and learn new skills, make lifelong friendships and continue to support each other through their teen years and into adulthood.”

- Jacquelyn P. Sauls, camp director for Camps Rainbow and Hope, and Director of Rainbow Services/Child Life for ECU Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

This year’s campers range in age from 6 to 18 and represent 16 different counties across eastern North Carolina.

Campers participate in typical summer camp activities like sailing, swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts while making new friends who share common experiences.

“It feels good to be around some people where I can be myself and actually be a kid again.”

— Preston Collins, Camp Rainbow participant

The ECU pediatric hematology/oncology staff developed the camps to help children learn more about themselves as well as their illnesses.

The cost of sending a child to camp for the week is $1,000, and the camps are offered free to children with chronic illnesses.

"I basically grew up here. I matured a lot here. I met lifetime friends here, basically what I call my brothers and my sisters. It just a place where you can always come back and relax. You always look forward to coming back to camp.”

- Tre McAllister, 1st year camp counselor

Tre is attending ECU in the fall as a biology major and hopes to become a pediatric oncologist. He was diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma when he was 12 and has been in remission for about four years.

This year, ten camp volunteers are either young adult cancer survivors or individuals living with sickle cell disease or hemophilia. They all say they remember how important their own Camp Rainbow and Hope experiences were and they want to make sure other children battling these diseases have similar experiences.

"I HAVE LEARNED THAT THESE CHILDREN FACE LIFE AND CHALLENGES WITH COURAGE AND ENTHUSIASM AND THAT THE WORDS ‘I CAN’T’ ARE NOT IN THEIR VOCABULARY."

- Jacquelyn P. Sauls, camp director for Camps Rainbow and Hope, and Director of Rainbow Services/Child Life for ECU Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

The camp environment is designed and monitored to meet the children’s unique medical and psychosocial needs. Campers receive around-the-clock medical care from their own ECU physicians and nurses throughout the week.

Until 2005 Camps Rainbow and Hope were held during consecutive weeks, but fundraising issues over the past 12 years led to downsizing the number of campers and holding both camps simultaneously.

Thank you to our donors!

The campers were supported this year with donations from the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, ECU Student Stores, the Eddie & Jo Allison Smith Foundation, Dr. Linda Willis, Mrs. Fiona Inman, Snow Hill Moose Riders, Riley’s Army, Beau’s Buddies, Jordan Smiles, Jaylen’s Nation, the Deidra Webb Family, and other individuals and civic organizations across the East.

If you or your organization would like to make a donation to help a chronically ill child attend Camp Rainbow or Camp Hope next year, contact Jacquelyn Sauls at saulsj@ecu.edu or (252) 744-3304.
Created By
Morgan Tilton
Appreciate

Credits:

Words by Amy Ellis / Photos by Rhett Butler / Video by Rich Klindworth

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