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Camp Okawehna, for Kids with Kidney Disease, Begins June 7

NASHVILLE, TN (June 4, 2014) Camp Okawehna, a special camp for children with kidney disease, will take place June 7-13 just 50 miles outside of Nashville in Lyles, Tenn.

Nearly 100 campers have signed up to attend this unique weeklong summer experience that began in 1975.

Camp Okawehna, often referred to as Camp O, is a tradition for many campers. With few kidney disease specific camps available around the nation, many children who find their way to Camp O return year after year until they graduate.

“Camp is an opportunity for these children to feel normal in a world that doesn’t understand their struggles,” stated Glenda Streicher, DCI corporate nurse. “I have volunteered as a camp nurse in the hemodialysis unit for 14 years. I return each year to battle the heat, work long hours and sleep on a cot so that I can give these children an opportunity to spend time with other children just like them who are battling kidney disease.”

Like Streicher, all nurses, doctors, counselors and other camp staff are volunteers.

According to camp director, Andy Parker, “We have a valuable collection of volunteers who give their time and effort to make sure every aspect of camp is safe, fun and memorable. Our logistics team of volunteers ensures the 100 acres of camp grounds are well maintained and accommodating for each camper.  Our kitchen volunteers, with the assistance of a renal dietician, prepare a kidney friendly menu with three full meals and snacks through the day that campers benefit from and enjoy. Each volunteer at camp has a specific role and we all know the focus is on creating a great experience for the kids.”    

This year’s camp theme centers around cruise ship ports of call. Special appearances at camp include: Keenan Burton, former St. Louis Rams receiver; CircEsteem, a circus arts team that allows the kids to practice circus stunts; and an interactive science adventure supported by Mr. Bond and the Science Guys. Campers will also enjoy a special arts and crafts project sponsored by Home Depot, archery lessons, field games, fishing, swimming, a derby car race, dancing, a full carnival, magic shows, a prom and much more.

The camp is open to all children, ages 6-18, with chronic kidney disease regardless of where they receive treatment. Children who have received a transplant are also encouraged to attend.

Children attend camp from cities around the US, including: Memphis, St. Louis, Houston, Austin and Nashville.

Medical staff members are on-site 24 hours a day for the entire camp session. Dr. Keith Johnson provides the medical direction for Camp Okawehna. Dr. Philip Berry, a practicing pediatric nephrologist, is responsible for the management of the hemodialysis facility during the week of camp. Berry is assisted by several other pediatric nephrologists from both the Nashville medical community and outside cities. Every camper who requires hemodialysis is required to bring with them a knowledgeable "home unit" staff person who knows the child's dialysis treatments and care. A hemodialysis unit, built in the woods at camp and staffed with a pediatric nephrologist and nurses, provides treatments throughout the week. The lodge, also staffed with renal professionals, is available for children who are on peritoneal dialysis.

To learn more or make a donation to Camp Okawehna visit: http://www.dciinc.org/camp_info.php

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