Teenage cancer patients are invited to attend Camp YOLO (You Only Live Once). The weekend camp is offered every fall and spring to adolescent patients with cancer, renal, cardiac, or HIV-related illnesses. Over 150 teens attend the camp each year, along with their physicians, nurses and other members of their support team. Patients currently on therapy can continue treatment at camp. A medical staff is on duty 24 hours a day. Camp YOLO is free for all participants.

About Camp Yolo

In 1998, The Periwinkle Foundation and the Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers identified a need to provide emotional support for teenagers with cancer. There were no programs that focused exclusively on 13 to 18 year old patients who were struggling with adolescence as well as cancer. A teen camp was created and the first campers named it Camp YOLO for You Only Live Once. Now in its 14th year, Camp YOLO addresses the unique challenges faced by adolescents living with cancer, renal, cardiac or HIV-related illnesses. While most teens are worrying about acne, getting a ride to the mall or how many text messages they can send, teens with serious illnesses are confronting very real life issues and seemingly unending hospital routines. Yet for two weekends each year, these young people have a chance to rejuvenate with others who understand their struggles, anxieties and fears. Campers learn teamwork and leadership skills and by the end of a fun packed and emotion filled weekend, they leave knowing they are not alone and they have what it takes to keep fighting their illness and face the challenges that life sends their way. Programming includes activities such as swimming, horses, advanced archery and paintball, arts & crafts, campfires, ropes course, night zip, biking, wheel chair basketball, volleyball, baseball, dances, cooking classes and much more. Additional special programming may include activities such as wish float or wish boat ceremonies, special inspirational speakers, and opportunities to share hopes and fears, successes and challenges. All the activities allow the participants to enjoy these outdoor activities with their doctors, nurses, and other members of their support team. Over 150 teen campers attend Camp YOLO each year. Children currently in therapy can continue treatment at camp. A medical staff is on duty 24 hours a day. Camp YOLO is held at the Camp For All facility in Burton, TX and is provided free of charge. More information about Camp YOLO can be found at https://www.periwinklefoundation.org.

The Psychosocial Benefits of Camp

Teens with cancer and other life threatening illnesses and their families suffer emotionally as well as physically from these devastating challenges. They deal with very adult issues of life and death. Their time is spent at the hospital, not "hanging" with their peers, undergoing treatments that rob them of their strength and vitality. At a critical time in their lives where appearance is everything, they can lose not only their hair, but also the use of their arms, legs, or cognitive skills. Camp YOLO seeks to rehabilitate the emotional well-being of teens with cancer and other life threatening illnesses through uplifting activities in a safe environment away from the hospital routine. They learn the importance of working as a team. Their independence grows as they are encouraged to be more responsible for their own choices and decisions. An important part of Camp YOLO is the special programming activities where the teens have opportunities to express their fears and needs. After feeling different at school because of how they might look, they discover they are not alone and begin to feel good about themselves again.

Quick Facts About Camp YOLO

  • When: Annually in May & September
  • Where: Camp For All, near Brenham, TX
  • Who: Patients from the cancer, renal, cardiac and HIV-related services at Texas Children's Hospital Ages 13-18 Each patient may take one sibling in the same age range.
  • Contact: Speak with your social worker if you are interested in signing up for Camp YOLO.

About The Periwinkle Foundation

The Periwinkle Foundation develops and provides programs that positively change the lives of children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life threatening illnesses and are cared for at Texas Children's Hospital. Each year more than 4,000 children are touched by Periwinkle programs Camp Periwinkle, Camp YOLO, Family Camp, Camp Periwinkle Days, Periwinkle Day Camp, the Long Term Survivor Program and the Arts & Creative Writing Program which culminates each year in a traveling exhibition of art by children touched by cancer and blood disorders. Through camping, recreational and arts programming, The Periwinkle Foundation provides opportunities for these special children and their families to heal emotionally, lead fuller lives and become stronger survivors. With the generous help of our friends and supporters in the community, The Periwinkle Foundation changes lives for life. Learn more at https://www.periwinklefoundation.org.