When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family shifts to focus on the needs of their little one, and an important part of the healing process during treatment is ensuring children have time to play.

Bangor YMCA
Bangor YMCA

A partnership between Eastern Maine Medical Center and the Bangor YMCA gives children treated for cancer the opportunity to feel like kids again by enjoying a traditional summer camp experience.At Camp Hope, children participate in activities that allow campers and their families to focus on having fun, and not on a cancer diagnosis. New this year, the campers will collaborate to decide on which group activity their cabin mates will participate in each afternoon, such as the ropes course, kayaking, swimming, archery, and arts and crafts.

“With many parents and families experiencing years of treatment, it’s a lot to take,” explains Carolyn Wills-Barberi, LCSW, social worker, EMMC Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. “We love seeing campers and their siblings forget about being sick for a while and just having fun.”

EMMC medical professionals are on hand during the week to meet the unique needs of campers, including administering oral chemotherapy and monitoring children for signs of fatigue. Everyone spends the special week beside the lake at the YMCA Wilderness Center at Camp Jordan in Ellsworth. Parents, who accompany children age four to seven, often connect with a supportive community, as everyone in attendance has faced similar experiences.

EMMC has helped provide a camp of this kind for the past 29 years. Families are able to attend Camp Hope free of charge thanks to the generous support of EMHS Foundation donors.

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