Psychological Benefits of a Normalized Camping Experience for Children With Cancer
- Cancer has an enormous impact on the psychological and social well-being of the family
unit. The life-threatening connotations of cancer single out the ill child from his
peer/family group as one who is different, and often unable to maintain a normal
lifestyle. Physical sequelae of cancer and its treatment accentuate the differences
between these children and their normal peers/siblings.
- It is important that children with cancer be prepared to function outside of protected
situations and begin to develop skills of separation and independence. For healthy
children, some of these latter skills are acquired by a camping experience. Such an
experience for the patient with cancer is frequently precluded by their dependence on
medical facilities and the physical limitations of their activities.
- The goal of this study will be to assess the short and long term benefits of the
"normalized" camping experience, provided in conjunction with Special Love, Inc., on
the patients and staff. In particular, we will seek to determine whether such a
comprehensive experience is capable of influencing the attitudes and life experiences
of patients and staff in a positive manner.
- To evaluate the impact of an enriched normalized camping experience on the quality of
life of the pediatric cancer patient. In particular, attempts will be made to measure
the manner in which this experience influences the child's sense of well-being and
self-esteem as well as his or her relationship with parents, family, and peers.
- To provide the atmosphere of a camping experience to the professional and volunteer
care givers with the hope that they will utilize this experience in improving the
quality of their interrelations with the patient population.
- Children 7-17 years of age who are currently being treated for cancer or are up to 3
years post therapy OR Young adults with cancer (YACers) who are acting as counselors at
- All children/young adults will be selected for camp after careful screening by a
multidisciplinary committee consisting of medical and program directors.
- At the discretion of the multidisciplinary committee consisting of medical and program
directors, special exceptions may be made for children with extenuating circumstances.
- Assessment of benefit may include interviews with children and families before, during
and following camp. Observational data on the child's performance at camp will be
- Medical and nursing personnel will consist of staff from the Pediatric Branch at the
NCI, other units within the NIH, and participating institutions.
- Special Love members, the Program Director at the 4-H Center camp (site of the camp)
and Pediatric Branch staff at the NCI will coordinate the camp program, taking into
account the medical needs of each camper.
- Every attempt will be made to provide a full agenda of age appropriate activities for
- The length of the camping experience for children with cancer will be for 7 days
beginning on a Sunday and extending through the following Saturday morning. Patients
will be transported to the camp from the NIH Clinical Center and the Virginia hospitals
Stephen J Chanock, M.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
United States: Federal Government
|National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike||Bethesda, Maryland 20892|
|Camp Fantastic P.O. Box 1101 Front Royal, VA 22630||Front Royal, Virginia|