Camp Lightheart…Respite for Children of Breast Cancer Survivors

Logo for camp LightheartThis summer, as in several summers past, Camp Lightheart, sponsored by Breast Cancer Options.org (www.breastcanceroptions.org) will bring kids together in a fun, safe environment, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences, fears and hopes about their mothers who are coping with breast cancer.

Camp Lightheart is a free camp open first to 8 to 15 years olds who are residents of New York State’s Hudson Valley, NY and then, to those outside of the Hudson Valley, if there is room. This year the camp will be held Tuesday Aug. 23rd – Friday Aug 26th, 2011 at the Omega Institute’s Rhinebeck Campus.

This camp, for the children of breast cancer survivors, is the brainchild of Hope Nemiroff, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Options. Hope, a breast cancer survivor herself, describes the work of Breast Cancer Options as providing comprehensive education, support and advocacy services for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Realizing that there were very few services for children who are often afraid that they will lose their parent, Camp Lightheart was first held in the summer of 2007 at the Omega Institute campus in Rhinebeck, NY. Funding was provided by the United Breast Cancer Foundation, Omega Institute, Banc of America Financial Services and Sam’s Club, Kingston.

“Camp Lightheart continues to be a huge success and has exceeded our expectations,” said Hope. “The campers and staff have a lot of fun and the campers make new friends because of their common bond. Through carefully organized activities, the children are given frequent opportunities to talk about their individual situations.  Because they have the common bond of a parent with breast cancer, their feelings of isolation or of feeling different are lessened.

The campers find themselves in a nurturing and fun-loving environment with a trained staff sensitive to their situation. The main task of the staff is to find the right balance between just having fun and providing relief for the kids.

It is our hope that each child will leave camp feeling less isolated, more supported and, most importantly, that their hearts will indeed be lightened. “

For more information about Breast Cancer Options and Camp Lightheart, visit www.breastcanceroptions.org

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