By: Tina Jacob
June 20th-24th, 2016 marked the 35th annual Camp Little Red Door. As Indiana’s oldest camp for pediatric cancer patients, Camp Little Red Door has become a tradition at Bradfood Woods. Every year, kids who have been diagnosed with cancer look forward to coming together with their peers to fill the air with camp songs, laughter, and words of encouragement while leaving their worries about cancer behind. In addition to their peers, Camp Little Red Door allows each camper to bring a friend or sibling to share these memories with and allow the camper to feel more at ease about being away from home.
“Camp is such an amazing place and it has definitely changed my life”
Camp provides the opportunity for kids to partake in the traditional summer activities that, before, they wouldn’t have even dreamed of being able to do. The climbing tower is a classic example of overcoming that fear of the unknown. Campers are put into a harness and are set to climb up the tower as high as they feel comfortable. Campers and councilors below are often heard shouting words of encouragement pushing the camper to break free of fear and make it to the top. A great feat that many of them didn’t think they could achieve! Other activities that campers are able to participate in include horseback riding, swimming, fishing, canoeing, arts and crafts, nature education, and zip lining. Each camper is encouraged to not look at themselves as limited due to their cancer diagnosis but as kids who can achieve anything they set their minds to. It builds self-confidence within them while also building strong and lasting bonds with other kids who have had similar life experiences.
“(Camp) has helped kids like us grow, make friends, and share with people who understand what it’s like to have cancer.”
Those bonds are highlighted within the traditions that Camp Little Red Door holds. Every year the campers have a lantern ceremony where they release a lantern in memory of their fellow campers who have lost their battles with cancer. There is also a hair cutting ceremony where campers (and even councilors!) can get their hair cut to show unity with each other while helping other kids going through treatment get wigs. Pretty neat huh?
“I have been coming to camp for 8 years and am very thankful for it. I am in Leadership and it is wonderful getting to support younger campers.”
Older campers are offered the opportunity to go through a Leadership Academy to learn leadership skills that translate into their everyday lives. They are given the opportunity to practice these skills during camp through mentorship of the younger campers.
Camp Little Red Door promotes fun and fosters the growth of life skills amongst campers in a safe environment. Bradford Woods is a medically- accessible facility; wheelchairs are not an inhibiting factor when it comes to Camp Little Red Door! Any camper can participate in any activity they wish to try (even zip-lining)! There is also a medical staff on site at all times to ensure everyone is having a safe and fun time. So, parents can rest easy knowing their children are in good hands.
If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Little Red Door, please visit www.littlereddoor.org/camp