Camps for Kids with Special Needs
Camp Celiac for Children with CD
Another camp based on dietary regulations and restrictions is Camp Celiac (www.csaceliacs.org/CampCeliac.php), with a program specially designed for kids who suffer from the genetic disorder, celiac disease (CD). People with CD aren’t able to eat certain types of protein (or gluten), because doing so sets off an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine, causes an inability to absorb nutrients, and leads to malnutrition and a variety of other complications. (Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats.)
Kids at the camp don’t worry about what they eat, because the camp food is prepared just for their needs; children learn that they don’t have to starve or lose out just because they must follow a special diet. Cooking classes, sponsored by the Gluten-Free Pantry, are significant parts of this camp, giving kids fun lessons on how to prepare their own foods. Children then take these recipes back to their parents to prepare together at home.
Kids at Camp Celiac participate in typical camp activities such as arts and crafts, canoeing, swimming, nature hikes, and survivor challenges. The staff also holds a carnival for the kids, including jugglers, horseback riding, and a rock-climbing wall. But the best thing about this camp is that it gives children with CD a chance to meet other kids who are just like them. For many, this is the first time that they’ve had a chance to interact with peers who share their disability.
Camps for Children with Cancer
There’s possibly nothing more frightening than being told you have cancer. This information is difficult enough for adults to take, but imagine being a child and knowing you have this frightening disease.
Thankfully, there are a number of camps in the US that give young people a break from thinking about their illnesses. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (www.mdanderson.org) offers two camps for children with cancer: Camp Star Trails, designed for kids five to 12 years old; and Camp A-OK, for teens 13 to 18. Both camps take young patients away from hospital rooms and treatments and allow them to just be kids.
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