6 Reasons a Kid with a Skin Condition Should Attend Camp Discovery
Last updated: June 2018
At 10 years old psoriasis covered about 90% of my body. During that time I felt alone and misunderstood. I yearned to engage with people who understood exactly what I was going through physically and mentally, but unfortunately, I never met anyone, or at least anyone who was willing to talk about it. Around the age of 11, I wrote out an entire business plan about a camp for kids living with psoriasis, at that time I was unaware of the hundreds of skin conditions outside of psoriasis that plagued millions of other lives. My plan was to create a safe space for kids living with psoriasis, a community where they could feel safe to wear shorts and tanks tops without being judged and meet others just like them. I had activities planned out including a fashion show where kids could strut their stuff without shame. A place where I could be me. Eventually, the thoughts became lost in reality of me being just a kid from Belleville Michigan and one day forgotten about.
What is Camp Discovery?
18 years later I found Camp Discovery a camp sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) for kids with skin diseases. At 28 I was just as excited about the camp as I probably would have been at 10 years old. Unbeknownst to me the dream I had written out nearly two decades before was already in the making starting in the early 90's. The camp has been around for almost 30 years. A part of me was a little disappointed that I didn't know sooner. I questioned how different my life would have been as a kid with psoriasis had I been empowered by this opportunity. Doctors had never mentioned the camp and back then there the World Wide Web was merely a concept not yet fully understood.
Why Camp Discovery is worth it!
I have volunteered at Camp Discovery for the last two years. It's a wonderful place for kids to be themselves and meet others who are just like them without fear of judgment or ridicule. The AAD does a wonderful job at doting every "i" and crossing every "t" with their intricate consideration of the kids needs. The ages invited to the camp are between 8-16. There are 6 different camps across the United States which last for one week between June and August. I also did a Youtube video outlining my experience at camp which you can check out here. If you have a child with psoriasis or any other skin condition here are 6 reasons why you should sign them up for this camp.
It's 100% free for all students accepted into the camp. The American Academy of Dermatology will pay for transportation as well as flights. The one week stay includes 3 meals a day plus snacks, all arts and crafts, activities and more.
The activities are meaningful and memorable
I have attended a camp in Texas and Pennsylvania. One one of the days the camp in Pennsylvania took everyone to an amusement park called Knoebels. I found out it's now a tradition. At the camp in Texas, they had a carnival day where a company came out and set up a section of the camp like a real carnival. It was amazing. They also have activities to increase skills or explore talents such as photography, drawing, acting, crafts, games, the list goes on.
The conditions aren't the main focus
We really don't talk about conditions while at the camp. The kids are able to just be themselves and forgot about the day-to-day struggles with their disease. Sometimes I overhear the kids speaking among each other about different issues, but the staff doesn't bring it up. The camp is a safe place for kids, to be just that, kids.
Most of the staff are medical or have a skin condition
A doctor started the camp back in 1993. Most of the staff are medical professions including doctors, nurses, physician assistants, or medical students. The camp ensures the staff on site are fully capable of catering to kids with special needs including physical and mental. Most of the cabins have 10-12 kids with 4 staff members. Every cabin has at least 1-2 medical personnel as camp counselors. Staff also undergo extensive video training on different challenges and protocols to provide a safe environment for the kids at camp.
Kids meet others just like them
Some of the conditions these kids have are so rare if it wasn't for the camp they would NEVER meet anyone else with their disease. Students are able to exchange information and keep in touch throughout the school year.
The application process is easy
To learn more about the camp and to fill out an application click here.
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