Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'No Difference between Me and the Next Kid'; Boggy Creek Gang Camp Has Special Campers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'No Difference between Me and the Next Kid'; Boggy Creek Gang Camp Has Special Campers

Article excerpt

Byline: Silla Brush, Times-Union staff writer

EUSTIS -- Krystal Smith sat in a semicircle of camp friends at lunch yesterday and sang Stand by Me. It's the 9-year-old Jacksonville girl's third year at sleep-away summer camp.

Wearing an oversize shirt from the American Cancer Society like all the campers, Krystal said she is looking forward to stage day at Boggy Creek Gang Camp tomorrow when she plans to dress up as Britney Spears and sing Crazy.

The main difference between this camp and others is that it is for kids like Krystal, who have chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The camp, part of a group started by Paul Newman in 1988, is in its eighth season and hosts more than 1,000 kids from Florida each year. Of the 133 kids in the camp this week 48 were from the Jacksonville and Southeast Georgia areas.

"A lot of the kids are not able to go to normal camps," said Helena Richards, a Jacksonville social worker at the Nemours Children's Clinic, referring to other camps' lack of adequate medical facilities. Richards is in her fourth year volunteering.

The nine-week summer session is geared toward building self-esteem and working together. This week is the first of two weeks for kids with cancer. The remaining seven weeks are dedicated to 14 other illnesses, including heart disease, HIV/AIDS and hemophilia.

The medical facility, "The Patch," lets doctors provide on-site treatment. If the treatment cannot be done there, a doctor accompanies a camper to a hospital.

But the emphasis of the camp is not on medical treatment. Richards said the camp helps introduce normalcy in the kids' lives as 75 percent of those diagnosed with cancer will be cured and must learn to function as adults.

"It doesn't matter whether you have tubes sticking out of your chest or no hair because everyone has something or has had something," she said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.