Sanford Children’s Hospital Holds Free Summer Camp For Children Battling Cancer/Survivors

WATERTOWN, S.D.- From tubing to shooting paintball guns, 55 children are having the time of their lives in Watertown.

They’re at a free summer camp that’s unlike many others.

It’s for kids battling cancer and those who’ve survived the disease.

Katie Henry can’t seem to hold back her smile.

She’s been waiting quite some time to go to summer camp at Joy Ranch and now that week is finally here.

“I’m really looking forward to going tubing and I’m really looking forward to the food,” says First timer at Camp Bring it On Katie Henry.

Katie’s even picked up a new skill, shooting paintballs, but Camps Bring it On, means more to her than just trying out new things.

In November 2016, Katie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and since then she says her body hasn’t felt the same.

“You can’t do everything you used to do, you get more tired easily,” says Henry.

But that all changed when her mother found out about Camp Bring it On, a summer camp hosted by Sanford Health for children with cancer and cancer survivors.

“The camp makes you have fun and makes you feel like, you can be normal,” says Henry.

Katie isn’t the only one feeling good; the staffs at the camp are too.

They say it’s heartwarming to see the children be themselves and forget about their diagnosis.

“They don’t want to miss a thing; they don’t want to take a nap in the afternoon,” says Sanford’s Children Camping Coordinator Marilee Kontz. “They are early to breakfast; it really is magic what happens here,”

Although, Katie has only been at the camp for one day she says it’s comforting to be around others, who get what she’s going through.

“It’s really nice because you know you can talk to them and tell them how you feel. It’s like you don’t have people saying, it’s not that bad, or I know how you feel when they really don’t know,” says Henry.

At the end of the day, camp organizers say that’s all that matters to them– seeing these children happy.

“It’s just, you can’t put it into words, it just overflows my heart,” says Kontz.

A team of medical professionals from Sanford Children’s Hospital is at the camp to assist with anything the kids need.

The camp is funded by Sanford and other organizations. This is the 12th year.

The children got to the camp on Monday and will return home on Saturday.

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