Millions of kids nationwide face adversities such as a parent having cancer, death of a loved one, their own cancer diagnosis or family substance abuse. Many organizations offer a reprieve for local kids in tough situations — free summer camp experiences in specialized, nurturing environments. Here are eight free camps for San Diego kids who need some extra care and support. Check websites for dates and more information.
Camp Kesem at UC San Diego
Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center in Orange, CA
Camp Kesem’s San Diego chapter partners with UC San Diego to offer a traditional overnight camp experience for kids and teens ages 6–18 who have a parent with cancer. All volunteers are UC San Diego students who are carefully screened and trained. Location varies year-to-year throughout Southern California, but transportation is always provided from UC San Diego’s main campus. For more information, visit www.campkesem.org.
Camp Beyond the Scars
An overnight camp that provides young burn survivors, ages 8-17, a safe, inclusive environment to have fun, make friends, and build relationships with other burn survivors. www.burninstitute.org/camp-beyond-the-scars
Seasons Hospice Foundation hosts a camp for grieving children (ages 5–17) who have lost a loved one in the past two years. www.seasonsfoundation.org/camp-kangaroo
Camp Mariposa: Multiple weekends
Offered to kids (ages 9–12) who have been impacted by substance abuse in their families. www.elunanetwork.org/camps-programs/camp-mariposa
Camp Spero: different dates for first-timers and camp "alumni"
A weekend camp for kids ages 7–17 who have lost a loved one. Children participate in grief-related activities and traditional camp fun in a supportive environment. Hosted by The Elizabeth Hospice. www.elizabethhospice.org/camp
Located at Camp Green Oak Ranch in Vista, this camp is offered to boys and girls (separate weeks) entering grades 4–11 who have lost a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. www.experience.camp/california
Resident Oncology Camp
The Seany Foundation invites children ages 8-17 who have (or have had) cancer to a week-long overnight camping adventure in Julian. www.theseanyfoundation.org
Reach for the Sky Sibling Camp
A week-long camp in Julian designed especially for brothers and sisters (ages 8-17) of children with cancer. www.theseanyfoundation.org
RyanStrong Family Bereavement Camp
This camp gives kids dealing with the loss of a sibling or parent due to cancer a chance to be a kid. Families have their own room and bathroom. Located in Julian. www.theseanyfoundation.org
Lisa Pawlak is a 3-time cancer survivor, who lost her own mother to cancer. Her son “Rogue” attends Camp Kesem.