Camp Eagle's Nest gives Children's Hospital patients chance to be 'normal' kids

TOWNSEND (WATE) - A week away at summer camp is a blast for any kid. For the nearly 50 East Tennessee Children's Hospital patients at Camp Eagle's Nest in Wesley Woods, this week is one filled with horse riding, rope climbing, literally just being a kid.

"It means a lot," said Eagle's Nest Camper Jaleah Batts, 9.

Camp Eagle's Nest is a place where Children's Hospital patients can be kids and forget about being a patient, while still having the support of the hospital right there with them.

"If a medical crisis should arise, our nurses are their nurses in the hospital so they know these patients personally. They know their diagnosis and they know how to care for them personally," said Anna Taylor with Children's Hospital.

"It's for like people that has cancer and has sickle cells," says Batts.

Batts is in a battle with sickle cell, meaning she could go into pain crisis where she would normally have to be at the hospital to manage it and get treatment. However, at Camp Eagle's Nest, she's literally surrounded by a team of nurses.

"They want to have fun too probably," Batts says. While that's probably true to some degree, the staff are mainly there in the case she or anyone else needs medical help.

"I think just seeing how these kids light up coming to camp is really positive to see," Taylor said. "Just seeing that they get out of the hospital setting for a week and get to do something that normal kids who don't have any diagnosis get to do."

In the process, they're making friends with similar diagnosis, challenging each other and working through obstacles much like the obstacles they may face in health.

They may even make friends with people like Jake Wallace who's been a camp counselor for the last three years. For 10 years before that, he was a camper himself.

"Here's a place where we can come where kids that are diagnosed with cancer can forget about their illness for a week," says Wallace. "That's exactly what I needed when I came here to Wesley Woods, was just forget about everything, just climb stuff and have fun."

Camp Eagle's Nest has nearly 50 campers this year which would normally cost around $400 per kid, all of which was paid for by donations to East Tennessee Children's Hospital.


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