/ Lisa Another Great Week at Ostomy Youth Camp! by Sandra Morris, Ostomy Youth Camp Coordinator, Vancouver Chapter
This year the Vancouver Chapter sponsored a record number of campers, more than in any previous year! We sponsored 12 campers, 8 girls and 4 boys. We are able to do this because of the generous donations we receive from our membership, their friends and family, community groups, and other donors.
I’ve been the Youth Camp Coordinator for going on 10 years (!) and every year I write an article about camp for the Sept/Oct issue of our newsletter. Before I launch into it, I’d like to direct you to the Letters & News section, where there are several notes of thanks and appreciation from some of our campers and their parents. What they have to say captures how important, beneficial, life-changing….. going to camp is for these kids. Their letters, more than anything I could write, demonstrate this.
Who are our campers?
The camp is for children with ostomies, or who may require surgery in future resulting in an ostomy. They range in age from 9 to 19. (Our youngest camper was 12). They may have an ileostomy, colostomy, mitrofanoff, and/or cecostomy. The reasons for their ostomies include inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s), birth defects (spina bifida, bladder exstrophy) and accidents.
Where is the Ostomy Youth Camp?
The Ostomy Youth Camp takes place at Camp Horizon, an Easter Seals camp located near Bragg Creek, Alberta, just southwest of Calgary. Ostomy Canada contracts with Easter Seals, which operates and manages the camp. Kids come from all across Canada to attend the Ostomy Youth Camp. (Our 12 sponsored campers all live in British Columbia).
How do we find potential new campers?
I’d like to give a big thank you to Heidi Barber, the Urinary Nurse Clinician, and Amie Nowak, the GI Nurse Clinician (ET Nurse) at BC Children’s Hospital. When I took on the job of Youth Camp Coordinator, I sought them out and asked them to spread the word about camp to their patients and families. They have worked hard to ensure that any kid having ostomy surgery knows about camp, and to connect me with their families. Without Amie and Heidi, many kids would miss out on the opportunity to attend camp.
What programs and activities are provided at Camp Horizon?
While our campers all are living with some form of ostomy, first and foremost, they are regular kids who enjoy having the opportunity to get together and experience regular camp activities. The facility has a pool, an archery range, an art studio, a rock climbing wall, a high rope adventure course, and the ‘giant swing’. They also go white water rafting, hiking, and biking. Highlights of the week include a dance and an overnight campout.
What does it cost?
It costs about $1,100 to sponsor a child to attend camp. Camp registration fees are $620 and return airfare to Calgary was just under $500. All funds are provided by the Vancouver Chapter, through our Wendy Irvine Youth Fund. As indicated above, this fund is made up of donations from our members, their families, and others who recognize the enormous benefits the kids receive from attending camp. (See sidebar). All donations, large and small, make a difference. (A big shout-out to Zach Johnson, a former camper who donated the $50 door prize he won at our Christmas Luncheon last December). If you would like to help to sponsor a child to attend camp in 2019, we welcome your donation! (See sidebar)
How does the Ostomy Youth Camp make a difference?
For many kids, the most important part of camp is being in a place where they feel they can be themselves. All the kids are dealing with similar issues, and for many it’s the first time they don’t feel alone. The younger kids get to see how the older ones cope and manage as they become teenagers and young adults. A highlight of the week is the Magic Circle, where the kids can open up about their own experiences and share some of their struggles, in a safe, supportive environment. The support they receive from the counsellors, ET Nurses, Adult Volunteers (who all have ostomies) and, most importantly, the other campers fuels their self-confidence and builds self-esteem. Although camp is only for 6 days, the kids stay in touch throughout the year, often texting or on Facebook, so their mutual support lasts long after camp ends. And when the next summer rolls around, they’re anxious to meet up with their old friends and meet the new campers.
Many of the kids say that camp has changed their lives. Because of this, we believe the Ostomy Youth Camp is one of the most important programs provided by Ostomy Canada, and supported by the Vancouver Chapter and other Chapters across the country.
The campers and their parents are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to attend camp and thank the donors for their generosity. (Again, I urge you to check out our Letters & News section – the notes from the kids and parents make it all worth it!)
Want to help sponsor a child to attend camp in 2020?
A donation cheque can be made out to: UOA Vancouver Chapter
PLEASE NOTE ON THE MEMO LINE THAT YOUR DONATION IS FOR THE WENDY IRVINE YOUTH FUND
AND INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS TO RECEIVE A TAX RECEIPT FOR DONATIONS OF $20 OR MORE
Mail to: UOAC Vancouver Chapter
Box 74570 Postal Station G
Vancouver, BC V6K 4P4
- photos courtesy Ostomy Youth Camp/Lisa Gausman
WHERE: Camp Horizon, Bragg Creek, Alberta (southwest of Calgary)
WHO: Children between the ages 9 - 18 who have had or
who will have bowel or bladder diversionary surgery or who have related special needs ( i.e. self catheterization, bowel and bladder incontinence), due to birth defects, trauma or disease (i.e. Crohn's disease, Ulcerative
Colitis, Cancer, Spina Bifida.)
COST: Registration fee is $620.00/child plus airfare
(transportation to and from camp, room and board are
included) Average cost per child is $1100.00
CONTACT: UOAC office at email@example.com
or phone 403-680-9551
APPLICATION FORMS: Available upon request from UOAC office at firstname.lastname@example.org
DEADLINE FOR 2020