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Patients are invited to attend Camp Periwinkle, a week-long summer camp which allows time away from a hospital setting. The camp gives patients an opportunity to experience the joys of childhood in a healthy environment where they are able to engage with patients, doctors, nurses, and members of their support team. Children on therapy can continue treatment at camp. A full medical staff is on duty 24 hours a day. Camp Periwinkle is free for all participants.
About Camp Periwinkle
In 1983, a handful of dedicated Texas Children's Hospital physicians and employees volunteered to make it their mission to develop a summer camp designed to meet the special needs of cancer patients. It was out of their caring that Camp Periwinkle was born. The camp was so named because the periwinkle plant extracts are used in the treatment of some cancers. As The Periwinkle Foundation's signature program for 28 years, Camp Periwinkle has earned the reputation of being the "Camp of All Camps!" among campers and counselors. Camp Periwinkle takes place each August at Camp For All, a barrier-free camping facility near Burton, Texas. Campers between the ages of 7 and 15 come from Texas, surrounding states and Mexico. As a way to support the family as a whole, Camp Periwinkle invites each patient to bring one sibling in their same age range to attend as well. Camp Periwinkle is free for all participants. The Periwinkle Foundation was developed to support Texas Children's Cancer Center and provides funding for the camp. Through the Foundation's generosity, children are able to attend camp free of charge. The week-long camp features swimming, archery, wheel chair basketball, archery, ropes courses, games, craft activities, swimming, storytelling and a whole lot of fun. More information about Camp Periwinkle can be found at periwinklefoundation.org.
About the Campers
Approximately 180 boys and girls, ages 7 to 15 years old who are patients at the Texas Children's Cancer Center, attend Camp Periwinkle every year. Each patient may take one sibling as long as there is room and the child is within the age requirements. Campers include patients who are currently undergoing treatment, are newly diagnosed, or are survivors who cannot attend regular camps because of the loss of physical or cognitive abilities resulting from their cancer treatment. Most are from the Houston area, but a growing number come from counties throughout South and Central Texas. Twenty-four to forty-two percent of the children come from families who are unable to provide camp appropriate clothing, toiletries and supplies. The Periwinkle Foundation provides these items based upon need. Campers and counselors come from a myriad of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
The Psychosocial Benefits of Camp
Camp has proven benefits for children with life threatening illnesses and their siblings. Benefits for patients and siblings include:
- A new or greatly improved sense of well-being
- Improved self-confidence
- Acceptance and understanding
- A welcome break from hospital routine
- Meeting other kids in the same circumstances and realizing they are not alone
- Meeting adults who are long-term survivors
- Feeling like a kid again.
Benefits for parents include:
- Having a week to address their own needs
- A welcome break from hospital routine
- An opportunity to focus on other children
- An opportunity to feel "normal"
- Learning to "let go" and to allow their child to gain independence and grow in self esteem.
Many children arrive at camp frightened and wondering what in the world they will be able to do for one whole week away from home! From the second they get off the bus, they learn that they can do everything just like "normal" children. As one mother put it, "This is a camp where anyone can do anything - it's about 'CAN' not "CAN'T'. It's about being a kid, not being a sick/well/disabled/different kid - just a kid where possibilities are realities." Much of the volunteer staff is made up of the same nurses and doctors the children see at the hospital. Making happy memories together at camp, they develop a stronger and more supportive relationship. After camp, seeing each other becomes a positive experience as they recall the joy and laughter of Camp Periwinkle.
Quick Facts About Camp Periwinkle
- When: Annually every July/August
- Where: Camp For All, near Brenham, TX
- Who: Patients from the Texas Children's Cancer Center Ages 7-15 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.