When Feysi was entering her freshman year of high school, she and her family received tragic news: her three-year-old sister had cancer. This is a life-altering diagnosis for the entire family, and a lot for a 14-year-old to process. That summer, Feysi was invited to attend Camp Grey Dove, Any Baby Can’s week-long summer camp for siblings of children with cancer.
“The camp was really fun. It was a relief to be with kids my age who understood what I was going through,” says Feysi who is now 22 and has been a volunteer counselor at Camp Grey Dove for the last 4 years.
Camp Grey Dove is part of Any Baby Can’s Candlelighters Childhood Cancer program, which provides services and support so that no family goes through their journey with childhood cancer alone. Campers benefit from being around other kids who understand what it’s like to have a sibling diagnosed with cancer, as well as opportunities to make new friends, try new things, and “take a break” from family stress.
The camp began in 1993, primarily focused on recreational activities. Since 2005, Camp Grey Dove has taken place at Peaceable Kingdom Retreat Center for Children in Killeen, Texas, a facility specialized in providing camp experiences to children with special needs. Over the decades, the programming has shifted to enhance therapeutic benefits, including adding group therapy to help children process difficult emotions like fear, jealousy and guilt.
The camp features traditional summer camp activities like swimming, a ropes course, scavenger hunts, archery and a talent show. In addition, group therapy is offered each day, facilitated by Any Baby Can staff. The therapy is fun and age-appropriate, with activities, crafts and games that get kids to open up, process emotions and learn coping skills.
With a therapist or social worker always on call, parents know that their children are well supported no matter what feelings arise.
Camp Grey Dove is open to any child in the community between the ages of 7 and 14 with a sibling who has cancer, had cancer in the past, or who has passed away from cancer. Siblings ages 15 to 17 can come to camp as “counselors in training.” The camp is offered at no cost to families.
Learn more about Camp Grey Dove: http://anybabycan.org/camp-grey-dove-2