What is Camp-Mak-A-Dream?

Monday, October 15, 2012
By, Stu Kaplan
The mission of the Children’s Oncology Camp Foundation is to provide Camp Mak-A-Dream as a medically supervised, cost-free Montana experience, in an intimate community setting, to children and young adults, and families affected by cancer.  Life is interrupted for children and young adults who are being treated for cancer in many ways, including frequent doctor visits and hospitalizations. The very medicines and radiation treatments that save lives also subject young people battling cancer to nausea, fevers, developmental disabilities, and blood transfusions. Affected individuals miss countless days of school and work and are often isolated from friends; developmental milestones are lost. In short, there is much that makes a young cancer patient feel “different”.

We believe that joy and friendship can be a catalyst for healing. Camp Mak-A-Dream provides a week of normalcy for this very special population. Participants take part in activities such as swimming, fishing, and hiking, surrounded by people who know just what they are going through. We also provide a state of the art health center staffed with physicians and oncology nurses. The health center allows us to provide blood transfusions, IV antibiotics, and chemotherapy administration – all under the watchful eye of medical personnel. Families also benefit as they see their loved ones get respite from the grueling task of treatment and often comment that the week at camp is a highlight of a participant’s life.

The work of the Children’s Oncology Camp Foundation provides positive and compassionate programs to a very special population of youth who are in need of a unique and powerful experience that can help promote healing and provide self esteem. In addition, Camp Mak-A-Dream is known as an excellent educational and recreational opportunity for young people with cancer and enhances the image and perception of our community in Missoula.

Camp Mak-A-Dream is the site of 10 camp and conference programs designed for the specific needs of the participants. Current programs include Teen CampSiblings CampKids Campthe Young Adult Conferencethe Heads Up Conference for young adults survivors of childhood brain tumors, and the Young Adult Survivors Conference. In addition, we offer three annual retreats – two for Ovarian Cancer Survivors and the Women’s Cancer Retreat.

While at camp, activities for children and teens include archery, swimming, hiking, camping, arts and crafts, fishing, recreational programs, campfire sing- a- longs, cabin chat, theatre, music, and special events that reflect both traditional summer camp experience as well as the unique needs of young cancer patients. For young adult participants, a more educational approach is established with workshops and guest speakers who are professionals in the field of Oncology and who provide important information on topics ranging from navigating the health care system to living with cancer.

Since our first camp session sixteen years ago, we have served over 5,000 participants and established an excellent reputation. We have nurtured strong relationships with the people of Missoula and the state of Montana who have adopted Camp Mak-A-Dream as their own and who have provided their time, talent, and treasure to ensure that the Children’s Oncology Camp Foundation succeeds in serving so many young people with cancer. In addition, over 64% of contributions and 85% of participants come from outside the state of Montana, reflecting support for Camp throughout the United States. We are very proud of the great work so many have done to make Camp Mak-A Dream such a special place and we look forward to continuing this commitment to young cancer patients for as long as we are needed.

2010 highlights included the completion of a treehouse and zipline that are completely wheelchair accessible.  In addition, we added our Teen Heads Up Program for teenagers affected by brain tumors.  In this program, participants planned and executed service projects to help citizens of Missoula in need, including the homeless, the hungry, and the elderly.  In 2011 we plan to institute a new program where primary caregivers come to camp along with their care receivers.  Finally, we are excited to implement a brand new program for Young Adult Cancer survivors in January, 2012.  Stay tuned at www.campdream.org for new emerging details!


Stuart J. Kaplan, MD, FAAP

Medical Director and CEO

  • Raaj

    I’m so glad I found my soutolin online.

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