Camp O, for Kids with Kidney Disease, June 8-14


Camp Okawehna, Dialysis Clinic, Inc.’s camp for children with kidney disease, will take place June 8-14, 2013.


Kara Kelley, Camp Okawehna camper says, “The thing that most kids don’t understand about kidney disease is that it’s a life changing experience.”


“I like Camp Okawehna because it’s fun and I get to hang out with a bunch of people who understand what I’m going through,” says camper Deandre Stevens.


Many children with kidney disease are unable to attend a summer camp because of their medical need for dialysis treatment. Camp Okawehna, often referred to as Camp O, was designed to give children with kidney disease the opportunity to meet other kids facing the same challenges. By offering on-site hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis facilities, Camp Okawehna makes the camp experience a possibility for children who would not otherwise have the opportunity.


“Life puts many challenges in front of us each and every day. To see the joy, excitement, and adventure in the eyes of these renal kids make me realize how lucky I am to have my health. It allows these kids the opportunity to be just kids. No singled out focus on health, no difference from the others – just plain kids,” states Glenda Streicher, Camp O hemodialysis nurse.


According to former camper, Youseph Karouni, “I like camp because I get to try a lot of things that I don’t get to try at home like canoeing and kayaking,”


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. We have volunteers who are planning many events surrounding this year’s camp theme:  “Star Wars”.  In addition, volunteers have made several trips to the camp grounds in the past month to ensure our camp facilities are well maintained and adequately prepared for Camp O.  Our kitchen volunteers, with the assistance of a renal dietician, prepare a menu tailored specifically for our campers  including foods that provide an excellent balance of nutrition and taste.”


The camp is open to children from across the nation, ages 6-18, with chronic kidney disease. Our camper population includes children who are currently on a form of dialysis as well as those who have received a kidney transplant.


Started in 1974 to give kids with kidney failure an opportunity to experience the simple childhood joy of camp, Camp Okawehna offers wholesome activities where children can come together and meet with other kids who understand the challenges of kidney disease. Campers enjoy arts and crafts, field games, fishing, swimming, a derby car race, dancing, a full carnival, magic shows, a prom and much more.


Approximately 100 campers from around the U.S. come to Camp Okawehna each year. Just as many volunteers arrive at camp to support the many activities. Camp is held approximately 40 miles outside of Nashville, Tennessee, on a 100-acre campsite.


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.