I am a believer in the benefits of summer camp — hemophilia camp to be specific. Children with bleeding disorders across the U.S. have the opportunity to spend time away from home and participate in activities they may not usually experience. Hemophilia camp is a place where kids can meet others of a similar age and condition. Many attendees form lifelong friendships. My son Caeleb has returned from his third year of camp like a different person.
When I sent Caeleb off a week ago, he was a gangly, 5-foot-7-inch boy, unhappy about leaving his electronics at home. Upon his return, I found a young man with a tanned neckline who appears to have grown a couple of inches and speaks in a lower voice than before. He was exhausted, having used up all of his energy over the week. He even said it was nice to be away from his games and phone.
The camp staff went above and beyond in their jobs. What is it about the magic of camp that changes our kids for the better?
Following are some of the benefits that summer camp brings to our children:
Camp gives kids the chance to spread their wings away from the routine of home. Kids don’t often get to show their independence because of their age. They are not typically the decision-makers in their homes. While a bleeding disorder brings some restrictions, the support and encouragement of the camp’s team allow kids to think for themselves and experience the world around them in a different setting. Surrounded by trained medical staff and counselors, the kids are in the perfect place to let loose in a safe way.
Adults enjoy time away to recharge and reflect — and our children with bleeding disorders need to take time out, too. Our kids deal with challenges at school, including bullying and peer pressure. I’ve not yet met an adult who says they would love to go back to middle school. Getting away to spend time with their “blood brothers and sisters” is a perfect way to recharge their spirits.
People with chronic illnesses and rare disorders can feel isolated. The bleeding disorder community is a relatively small one, and finding others who face similar challenges can feel refreshing. Relationships at camp can develop into enduring friendships, which are different than their familial bonds, and bring a depth and richness to a young person’s life.
It is scary for young parents to consider sending their child with a bleeding disorder off to camp. But I know that hemophilia camp with its fantastic counselors, volunteers, and trained medical staff is the safest place for our kids to have fun. I am happy that my son has the opportunity to experience independence, renew his spirit, and develop relationships with his fellow mighty warriors.
For more information on summer camps for children with bleeding disorders, visit the National Hemophilia Foundation’s website.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.