JACKSONVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Childhood is suppose hold memories of fun, adventure and special people and places that we visited as a youngster. Unfortunately, for some kids, they're dealing with the curse of having childhood cancer. In order to make that obstacle a little easier on both the children and their families, a local organization is helping those sick children enjoy their childhood at Indian Summer Camp at Camp Cedarmore in Jacksonville, Kentucky, a short ride from Waddy.
5-year-old Shawn Bowen is at camp for the first time and is looking forward to a lot of things. " Ah, playing and eating!" he said.
Shawn is a camper at Indian Summer Camp, a non-profit organization that's been providing services to Kentucky's childhood cancer families for over 25 years.
Jason Patrick has volunteered as a counselor for the past 18 years and loves it. "I've had parents (and nurses) come in and say, 'What did you all do with that kid? He's talking now, he's involved,'" Patrick said. "We just treat them like a kid instead of a patient."
Julia Porter's son Collin was a regular camper for the annual retreat, until he lost his battle with cancer in 2004. The organization he founded, Collin's Classic, now helps others with the disease and their families.
On Sunday, Julia was handing out cameras as she does every year, to allow the kids to record their positive memories during the week. "This is the one place that these children who are undergoing a very traumatic experience in their life, can feel normal," she said.
It may seem like a normal summer camp, but Jesse Phillips, who was once a camper suffering with childhood cancer and is now back as a counselor, said it's much much more. It's another family, and that's the reason he's been coming back for 21 years.
Jesse's father passed away while he was attending Indian Summer Camp years ago. He remembers how the camp director stepped in and gave him comfort in his time of sorrow. "She mothered me and held me while I weaped and cried cause I had no idea what was going on," Jesse said. "I still thank God every day that I'm here and this camp's here. It's amazing, words do it no justification."
It's an amazing experience Shawn Bowen is looking forward to for two reasons. One, just being a kid at camp and two, enjoying it all while in remission.
A full medical staff is on hand during the entire week long camp in the event any of the children develop a need for medical attention. Some are even taking their normal chemotherapy treatments in the camp's medical station. Others, are like Shawn, with their cancer in remission.
There are over 90 kids attending this week's camp at a cost of over $70,000. All of which is paid by donations from individuals and companies around Kentuckiana. Families of kids with childhood cancer can have their child attend the camp absolutely free. If you would like to help and donate, or would like more information on the program, you can click here for more information.