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Young Cancer Patients Enjoy Indoor Summer Camp

M.D. Anderson patients get a unique camping experience through Camp For All.

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Camp For All hosts children from across the city every year. For the first time, the organization created indoor camping activities for children who are patients at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Kurt Podeszwa, the camp director, said organizers aim to provide activities children would enjoy at any outdoor summer camp.

 “The opportunities were how we do canoeing if we don’t have water,” he said. “We figured out some dolly systems to get the canoes on so the campers can still move around and do the canoeing.”

 The organization provides “barrier free” activities in order to accommodate children with special needs. Although the main focus is on patients, Camp For All CEO Pat Sorrells says it’s also important to include family members in the experience.

 “So much focus is put on the campers that are sick that the siblings are often left out and we’re all about the emotional healing process,” Sorrells said.

 Camp For All’s 200-acre outdoor campsite northwest of Houston has provided activities for children since 1998, but Sorrells believes the experience for campers at M.D. Anderson is just as beneficial.

 “You come to camp and you learn what you can do as opposed to what you can’t do. You learn you’re not defined by the fact that you have cancer,” Sorrells said. “It’s all about having joy brought into your life at a time when there’s not a lot of joy.”

 M.D. Anderson is one of 56 Camp For All partners.