For the past 32 years, cancer and blood disorder patients from Akron Children’s Hospital have had an opportunity for fun and adventure with their hospital caregivers during the weekend-long Camp Ed Bear.
This year’s circus theme was a hit with campers of all ages. The kids attended a carnival party with games and traditional carnival treats. Even the cabins had fun circus-themed names.
The girls’ cabins were dubbed Purple Elephants, Cotton Candy Twirling Tweens, Amazing Adorable Acrobats and Fireworks. The boys’ cabins were named Lion Tamers, Juggling Jesters, Ringleaders and the Strongmen.
It’s a tossup on who likes camp better, the staff or the kids.
“For the staff, it is so fun for us to see the kids in a different light,” said Palmer. “It is nice to see them having fun versus being in a hospital bed.”
The campers also enjoyed the climbing wall and a zip line, horseback riding, pontoon boat rides and a dance.
This year’s weather was the best anyone can remember in a long time. Even the Astronomy Club, led by Dave Jessie, was able to show the kids the stars and planets on a clear night.
“The weather was so brilliant that our campers finally got to enjoy some star gazing,” said Doug Palmer, hematology-oncology social worker and coordinator of this year’s camp. “Under the clear skies out in the country, even the rings of Saturn were visible. The kids and staff thought that was especially neat.”
For many of the kids, Camp Ed Bear is their only opportunity to experience a camp.
“I think the parents feel comfortable that we have staff there if there happen to be issues,” said Palmer. “Many of the doctors attend camp and there’s nursing on hand 24 hours a day to help dispense the kids’ meds and even factor for the kids with hemophilia.”
Camp Ed Bear was held at Camp Carl in Ravenna, Ohio. Palmer said Camp Carl, led by executive director Mike Landis, makes an extra special effort to accommodate the special campers.
Camp staff transported one camper by ATV vehicle all weekend because he was unable to walk by himself.
“Project Ed Bear funds our camp every year and without those funds, camp wouldn’t be possible,” said Palmer. “They do so much to make the weekend fun. They do arts and crafts. They pay for the T-shirts. They also brought gifts for the carnival games. We’re very grateful for Susan Summerville and Ede Bittle of Project Ed Bear for coordinating everything and making this camp a reality for our patients.”