Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Midlands has canceled this year's Camp KEMO, a summer camp for children with cancer, and Camp Wonder Hands, a camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Both camps, offered free of charge through the generosity of community donors, plan to resume their typical programming schedule in 2021.
Camp KEMO, in its 41st year, provides a week of fun and outdoor therapy for its participants, patients treated at Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Midlands Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and their siblings. Camp KEMO also provides a much-needed week of respite for parents, while knowing their children are in the hands of the same physicians, nurses and staff who care for them at the hospital as well as hundreds of volunteers.
Camp KEMO will offer virtual methods for connecting the campers and will share those details with campers once they are finalized. In addition to the week-long camp experience, Camp KEMO Programs offers year-round events for blood disorder and oncology patients and their families. These programs include in-hospital programs, mothers' groups, teen retreats, bereavement programs and many others. The programs will resume as soon as possible.
"We know that each of our patients and their families look forward to the special memories that are made at our camps each year," said Dr. Caughman Taylor, medical director of Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Midlands. "We always are focused on the health and safety of our patients, and the camp experience is part of letting children forget about their illnesses with a talented team of medical professionals and volunteers to support them. We will look forward to next year when we hope to bring back this special time."
Children who are hard of hearing or deaf, from across South Carolina and surrounding states, attend Camp Wonder Hands, now in its 24th year. Campers communicate using American Sign Language (ASL), lip-reading, facial expressions and touch. Camp Wonder Hands director E.T. Taylor, RN, joins with Dr. Taylor in his sentiment about the camp and its importance.
"Camp Wonder Hands has special meaning for the campers and their families because this camp experience offers an atmosphere where deaf culture is celebrated. At camp, deaf and hard-of-hearing children are the majority - perhaps for the first time in their lives," said E.T. Taylor. "Successful, confident adults who share their challenges serve as counselors and role models. Every day, in every activity, their beautifully expressive language is celebrated. We will miss this special time together this year, but we look forward to connecting again soon."
Although Camp Wonder Hands will not be held in person this year, camp leaders are exploring the opportunity to connect with campers in the virtual space and will offer care packages in June.
Both camps are fully funded through the generosity of community donors. Fundraising efforts continue for both camps.
Donations may be made to Prisma Health Midlands Foundation, Attn: Diane Junis, 1600 Marion St., Columbia, S.C., 29201, or online at PrismaHealthMidlandsFoundation.org.
For more information about Prisma Health Children's Hospital-Midlands, call (803) 296-KIDS (5437) or visit PalmettoHealthChildrens.org.
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