Fifty Hematology/Oncology patients between 6 to 17 years old are spending a week at Camp Eagles Nest in Maryville. The hospital hopes the week will give the children the “opportunity to experience the joys of summer camp.”
“Because of their medical needs, they don’t get to go to a typical summer camp, so to be able to provide this camp for them is really special. We have a nursing staff that knows the patients, that takes care of the patients at the hospitals that can provide medical care up here,” said Anna Taylor, a child-life specialist in ETCH’s Hematology/Oncology department and co-director for Camp Eagle Nest.
The outdoor adventure camp includes horseback riding, archery, a ropes course, swimming, and more. The camp is open to children who have cancer or blood disease and are in the middle of treatment at ETCH. It is also open to those who have finished treatment.
“I love camp, it’s my favorite week of the year. It’s so nice I work with these kids in the hospital throughout the year, but it’s so fun to get out of the hospital with these kids and do these fun activities and see what they can do outside the hospital,” said Taylor.
Donations to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital help the hospital take the children to camp at no cost to the child or their families.
“So, this camp that we do every year is free for the patients. They don’t have to pay a dime for any part of the camp. It is donor funded from various donors throughout the community that donates to Children’s Hospital and to this camp exclusively,” said Taylor. “We’re very thankful to all these people in the community that help us be able to do this camp year after year.”
One camper, Chloe Crawford, is a recovering bone cancer patient who is now cancer-free. The 13-year-old said the camp has given her the chance to connect with others who have been through similar experiences.
“We get to be able to talk to people here who have been through the same stuff as I have. To like, kind of share our stories with each other and learn how it was like different from other people and how it was the same for us,” said Crawford.
ETCH has offered this camp to Hematology/Oncology patients for nearly 40 years. To find out how to help Children’s, click here.