01 Jun Camp Okawehna, for Kids with Kidney Disease, Begins June 6
Camp Okawehna, for Kids with Kidney Disease, Begins June 6
NASHVILLE, TN (June 1, 2015) Camp Okawehna, a special camp for children with kidney disease, will take place June 6-12 just 50 miles outside of Nashville in Lyles, Tenn.
Nearly 100 campers have signed up to attend this special weeklong summer experience that began in 1975.
Camp Okawehna, often referred to as Camp O, is unique because hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis treatments are performed on-site. The Stix hemodialysis unit is a fully certified 10 station unit in the woods that runs three shifts. The Lodge holds up to 21 kids who plug in their cyclers to perform peritoneal dialysis while they sleep.
“Children with kidney disease may think that going to an overnight camp is out of the question because most camps don’t have the medical support system in place to offer dialysis. We are very fortunate to have a well-equipped area and a skilled medical staff on-site to provide for the medical needs of the children,” stated Cheryl Conquest, RN. “We ensure the medical needs are addressed for the kids so that they can get to the most important part of camp, having fun and making connections with other campers.”
Helping children with kidney disease to connect with other children is a very important part of camp. Children attend camp from cities around the US, including: Memphis, St. Louis, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Shreveport and Nashville. Campers, ages 6 to 18 years old, are invited regardless of where they receive treatment. Children who have received a transplant are also encouraged to attend.
Children with kidney disease endure a wide range of challenges associated with a chronic disease. They take a variety of medications that have unpleasant side effects. They endure multiple surgeries. They are often misunderstood by their peers because of their differences.
“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 15 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 on Superheroes and discovering one’s own superpower. Special appearances at camp include: CircEsteem, a circus arts team that allows the kids to practice circus stunts; an interactive martial arts demonstration courtesy of McKeel Martial Arts; and an animal exhibit courtesy of the Natural History Education Company of the Midsouth (NHECM). 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.
To learn more or make a donation to Camp Okawehna visit: https://www.dciinc.org/campo/.