Founded in 1994, Camp Courage creates an unforgettable recreational and educational experience for children, teens, young adults, and families living with cancer or a blood disorder being treated at the BI-LO Charities Children’s Cancer Center.
Camp Courage provides psychosocial support in the form of recreational and educational programs for children, adolescents, and young adults living with cancer or a blood disorder, which allows them to share similar experiences with peers while participating in activities that promote normal development and encourages age appropriate coping with the challenges they face.
To support the psychosocial well-being of our children, teens, young adults living with cancer and blood disorders and their families by providing opportunities for:
We at the BI-LO Charities Children’s Cancer Center understand that sending your child off to camp is exciting, nerve wrecking, and sometimes sad. However, sending a child living with cancer or a blood disorder off to camp for the first time can be extremely scary.
So, we want you to know that we understand your fear, anxiety, and concerns. However, we take having your child with us at camp as a privilege and a responsibility that we consider very serious.
Camp Courage has full-time counselors in every cabin, and we keep the counselor to camper ratio to no more than 1 counselor per two campers depending on the age of the campers. All counselors have undergone background screenings, health screenings, and training on how to help our campers with being at camp.
Cabins at Camp Courage are divided by gender and age, so you can rest assure that your child is with peers his/her same age or peers within no more than two years of his/her age.
Camp Courage is staffed by a full-time physician, nurse practitioner, and registered nurse that are there to take care of any and all medical needs while your child is at camp. This means, our medical staff handles anything as small as a cut all the way up to a fever. No medical issues are ever treated by a counselor or volunteer at camp.
Our medical team is all staff members that already know and treat your child while they are at home. Every medical staff member at camp works or has worked at the BI-LO Charities Children’s Cancer Center either inpatient in the hospital or outpatient in the cancer treatment center. So, they are already the physicians, nurse practitioner, and nurses that you know and your child know.
Communication with campers by parents is limited while at camp, for several reasons:
Communication by phone, text, email, blog, and Facebook are provided for families throughout the week through the camp director. If you have any issue or simply need an update on your child, there are many different ways to talk with staff, which will be provided at drop off.
Camp is a very busy place, and we spend a lot of time outside. Please know that bringing your best/new clothes or shoes, or irreplaceable favorite items is NOT a good idea.
Please make sure to label your child’s luggage with their name or luggage tag. Also, for young campers, please make sure to label their clothes, yes even underwear, with their First, Middle, and Last initials.
During the day of pick-up, we will have a LOST and FOUND table that you should take a look at before leaving to make sure that your child did not leave anything behind. All items left at camp are thrown away after all campers and counselors have left the facility.
Cell Phones are not permitted at camp and will be taken at drop off. If children or teens bring cell phones, they will be required to label and turn them in at registration. They will be permitted to use them only at assigned times. However, we do reserve the right to refuse the use of cell phones if it becomes an issue with homesickness or is disruptive to the camper. Campers should not call parents without permission of the camp staff.
Electronic items are also not permitted at camp. This includes, but are not limited to, iPods, hand held video game systems, iPads, and other electronic items. We request this because the setting of camp is interactive and social, and we do not want anything to happen to these expensive items. We also request that all toys remain at home as well. We will have plenty of items to keep all campers busy and entertained.
Please remember, we are not responsible if any items are lost or stolen.
Talk with your child about the activities at camp—all the things they are going to be able to do and try. Camp Courage is not a place where they will be forced to do anything. It is a challenge by choice camp, so we encourage, but we never force.
Talk to your camper about being part of camp, which means a really big family. We view our camp as our home and everyone in it as family. So, we take care of our home by cleaning up, picking up after each other at times, and respecting the camp and the people in it.
Making friends and meeting new people is a big part of camp. One of Camp Courage’s goals for our campers is to meet new peers that they can relate to. However, we also know that not every child relates to each other. So, it is ok if your child does not make 20 new friends, but maybe one or two. It is also ok if they are not everyone else’s friends. We only ask that campers listen to one another and respect one another.
Camp Courage has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for bullying or harassment. We want campers to let their counselors or camp director know if someone is being negative and affecting them in a negative way. We will take immediate action to make sure it does not continue. However, if it does continue after action is taken, the camper will be removed from camp by his/her parents.
Help them focus on all the fun and excitement of camp. Also help them identify all the wonderful traits that they will be bringing with them to camp. For example, how compassionate they are, how much they like to help, or how loyal of a friend they can be.
Talk with your camper about being homesick, because it is normal! Most campers miss something about home; parents, home cooking, a pet, or just the comfort of their bed. All of these feelings are normal.
Here are some strategies that you can do before camp to help with homesickness!
If you get a call about your child being homesick, please don’t panic! You may hear tears and begging, but they really are ok.
However, if their homesickness is too overwhelming or disruptive to other campers, we will ask you to come get them. We NEVER, EVER want camp to be a place they never want to return to. They can always go home and come back the next day, or return the next year with more knowledge under their belt.
If your child has any issues that they are uncomfortable with or nervous about, please tell us. We can take care of many issues that children often get embarrassed about that are out of their control, without anyone ever knowing. However, we do rely on parents to communicate such issues.
If your child is between the ages of 5-7, here are a few things that can help them when going to camp.
REMEMBER: Your child will gain so much from overcoming their homesickness.
There are many ways to volunteer at Camp Courage:
Camp Courage has been extremely blessed with wonderful volunteers for our cabin counselors and program volunteers from our community. Our camp would not be as successful and therapeutic for our patients without the help and talent that we receive from our community.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or giving your time and talent at Camp Courage, please read the following requirements. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Lyndsey at (864) 455-8741 or e-mail LHoffman@ghs.org.
All applications for campers, counselors, and leaders in training will be online and will be available in April. Please check back to apply!
Camp Courage is dependent on community donations and grants. Without donations, we would not be able to provide this free medically safe camping experience for our patients.
If you would like to donate to Camp Courage, please visit our Office of Philanthropy and Partnership.
You can also donate to Camp Courage through the Virtual Toy Drive.
To help us continue the level of care that our patients need and deserve, please contact our office at (864) 455-8741.
Staff and volunteers of Camp Courage are available to give presentations regarding camp and our center within the community. Please call us at (864) 455-8741 to schedule a visit.
Special thanks to the Greenville County Recreation Department staff, community volunteers, and our staff.