Western PA Kidney Kamp is a not for profit summer kamp experience for children in various stages of kidney disease. It was established by the National Kidney Foundation, and has been in existence since 1994. It was taken over then by DCI, after funding through the NKF was no longer available.
The Kamp is located on the 600+ acres of Ligonier Camp and Conference Center, outside historical Ligonier, PA 15658.
WPAKK is a week-long kamp, usually held the first full week of August. (Please check with contact person for dates each year). It runs Sunday afternoon to Friday morning, with a jammed schedule of activities and experiences for kids 8-16, or until graduation from High School.
Everything is provided to the kampers including food, lodging, on-site medical care, assist with peritoneal dialysis (supplies provided by kamper), Hemodialysis transport to local DCI Mt. Pleasant. Special consideration is taken for renal kids with all disabilities to enjoy the Kamp experience.
WPAKK allows for kids in all different stages of their kidney disease: initial failure, dialysis, & transplant. It allows them to be with others of like mind and body, and to have a great week at kamp.
Just some of our kamp activities during the week include a ropes challenge course, horseback riding, swimming, lake time including jet skiing / rafting rides, and dance party with DJ Johnny – who has been with us for over 10 years. Also included is a day at the local theme park – Idlewild and Soakzone.
Kampers are expected to participate in activities as much as possible. The activities are geared to be fun and promote independence and growth on the part of the individual kamper. This helps the kamper develop a trusting relationship in a new environment, explore their full potential, and learn about themselves.
PA Kidney Kamp 2015 “Where everyone’s a Hero”
From Marvel characters such as Thor or Captain America to the most commonly known Batman and Superman, society today acknowledges superheroes for saving the day, for conquering tough obstacles, and for making life better for each person they come into contact with.
At PA Kidney Kamp, all of our campers are superheroes. Each camper has overcome remarkable challenges, and still manages to spread joy to each and every person they encounter.
At Hero Kamp, challenges begin with general rules and regulations, because even heroes have conditions that must be followed. Superman has to stay away from kryptonite, and if Spiderman couldn’t make a web, how would he function? Likewise, each hero at Hero Kamp has to know their expectations and limitations. Rooms are assigned, new team members are introduced and old members come together to share their experiences since last seen.
Day 1: What better place to start the week than at the pool? The sun, the fun, and the kids showing super abilities in manipulating the water, it was a blast! If kids didn’t want to swim, games of checkers were set up around the pool for an intense and engaging competition. That evening, campers were split into teams to make preparation for the coming events–our Superheroes needed to know who their allies were for the week.
Day 2: Everyone awakened to the challenge of initiative games. The campers started as a unified group, because even heroes have to work together and develop trust. Soon after, they broke into smaller groups. Even a summer storm couldn’t keep our heroes from having a blast!
One activity everyone wanted to participate in was inside wall climbing. Do you have the strength to get to the top?
Day 3: Tuesday brought the sunshine back and many outdoor activities. We saw that superheroes can accomplish many feats. Do you think you could shoot an arrow and then split that arrow with a second shot? We had a hero who did.
Hanging from trees instead of webs – zip lining is always a big event for these kids. First you have to get there – take off – and land.
Day 4: Wednesday is traditional Idlewild Park day. Who doesn’t enjoy a day in the park with rides and games, cotton candy and hotdogs? On top of that, we mustn’t forget the trip to the water park with swimming, buckets of water, and spider rides.
Afterwards, our heroes had a relaxing evening complete with corn roast and mountain pies, with much anticipation building for the competitive Derby Car Race that night. The race, which is always a bonding event, is made possible thanks to the local BoyScout troop who, each year, bring in a track with computerized judging.
1- Mason 2-Theresa 3-Chante
Day 5: Our heroes took a trip to the lake for Jet Ski riding, tubing and swimming. Heroes who weren’t on the waterfront mastered their skills in the laser-tag zones and feasted on grilled hamburgers.
That night, our heroes got dressed up for the closing dance. What better way to end the week than dancing and good times with your new friends? Our heroes discussed challenges accomplished, new relationships formed and their plans to reunite next year. Special thanks to JukeBox Johnny for making it another great year on the dance floor!
Day 6: After a fulfilling week of sports and competition, each camper packed up their belongings, along with medals and ribbons, and headed back to their respective homes. Already planning the return next year, our superheroes pledged to never forget the friendships formed and the experience shared together.
As always this week could not have been the success it was if not for our sponsors and volunteers. Our sponsors: DCI corporate and local clinics, KJ Johnston, LTD., BK Electric, Presidential Cleaning, local Western PA Chapter Council of Social Workers, the local Three Rivers ANNA chapter and the families who support and provide for the Thursday evening dance party.
Also, a special thank you to all of our behind-the-scenes staff:
- To the DCI Mt. Pleasant clinic that is always there should we have dialysis needs.
- To our core staff, Allison – application processor and just all around go to person, Robbie, Chris, Heather, Mike and Jaimee, who are there to do whatever is needed to make this work.
- To Jill Kratochvil, who is transitioning to Kamp Director. Jill says “I started out one day at camp and soon asked to become more involved. No matter how much work or time is needed Kamp is my HEART. It’s about making the kids feel excepted, loved and understood.”
- To Bob, who received a Lifetime Friends award for his years of service to the Kamp and his ongoing support. You will always be in the hearts of the kids and those who work alongside him.
- To Chris Craft who was awarded the 2015 Special Friends of Western PA Kamp we say congratulations and now the real work begins.
- To everyone who made it possible to have a successful camp experience, we thank you!
Submitted by: Glenda Barnett-Streicher Western PA Kidney Kamp Nurse