At Saturday's "meet-and-greet" program for campers and their parents, Governor Jack Markell signs a proclamation honoring the first oncology camp in Delaware. Kay’s Kamp was the “vision and dying wish” of Kaylyn Warren, according to her brother, Andrew Warren, who served as the master of ceremonies at Saturday’s event at the site of the camp, St. Joseph's Center for Community Service. After a courageous battle with leukemia, Kaylyn passed away in 2007. Her family and friends made it their goal to make her dream come true, and in August, it will.
The organizers of Kay’s Kamp for kids with cancer in Clayton received a heartfelt tribute from state and local elected officials on Saturday.
At the “meet-and-greet” information program for campers and their parents, Governor Jack Markell signed a proclamation honoring Kay’s Kamp as the first oncology camp in Delaware. State Senator Bruce Ennis and State Representative Quinn Johnson presented a tribute to the camp founders and supporters at St. Joseph’s Center for Communitty Service.
U.S. Representative Mike Castle sent a letter that was read, thanking the camp organizers and telling the campers he hopes their experience is as rewarding and memorable as his first time at camp.
Markell talked of his family’s experiences dealing with cancer, with his father, and when his wife had breast cancer, and he said he was honored to attend Saturday’s event. He thanked camp founders Bill and Laurie Warren for what they’ve done to make their daughter Kaylyn’s dream come true, to help other families who have children battling cancer.
“How much internal strength it took so shortly after the loss of your daughter is remarkable,” said Markell. “I don’t know if there’s a higher calling to create a place like this to help others. We talk a lot about heroes, but I think that’s often misplaced, either when people are talking about athletes or political figures. To me the heroes are people like Kaylyn.”
Camp was “vision and dying wish” of Kaylyn Warren
Kay’s Kamp was the “vision and dying wish” of Kaylyn Warren, according to her brother, Andrew Warren, who served as the master of ceremonies at Saturday’s event.
After Kaylyn was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005 at the age of 17, her dream was to open a summer camp for kids with cancer. When she visited St. Joseph’s Center for Community Service with her family during a tour of possible sites, “she fell in love with the place,” according to her mother, Laurie Warren.
After a courageous battle with leukemia, Kaylyn passed away in 2007. Her family and friends made it their goal to make her dream come true, and in August, it will.
The camp will be held at St. Joseph’s August 8 to 15, featuring a staff of physicians organized by Dr. Lou Bartochesky, the Chairman of Pediatrics at Christiana Care.
The camp is free for children who are being treated for cancer or who are in remission. According to the Kay’s Kamp brochure, children who are currently in treatment for cancer or on maintenance chemotherapy will be able to receive their treatment at the camp and go right back to camp activities. Children who need lab work will be able to go to the infirmary in the morning before breakfast, have blood drawn, and go on with their day at camp. Children who aren’t feeling well or are having side effects or complications from treatment will have oncology nurses and a hematology/ oncology physician available for assessment, treatment, and reassurance.
Kay’s Kamp is opening in association with the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care which will supply on-site medical coverage during the week, and the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children’s Department of Hematology/ Oncology which will provide 24-hour phone consultations.
Many volunteers will be staffing the camp as counselors and leaders of arts and crafts, games, sports, music, and nature studies.
Saturday’s program allowed campers and families
to meet the staff and each other
Andrew Warren told the campers who attended the meet-and-greet program Saturday, “I hope you all are getting excited because I’m totally pumped!”
He recognized volunteers and supporters in attendance, pointed out activities for kids, and encouraged parents and campers to ask questions and enjoy the afternoon.
Also looking forward to camp in August is Pearce Quesenberry of Marshallton in New Castle County.
“I’ve never been to camp, so this will be fun,” she said.
And what were her thoughts after seeing the “campgrounds” at St. Joseph’s in Clayton?
“I like it. It’s nice,” she said.
Pearce’s mom, Debbie Quesenberry, said, “It’s wonderful to have a place where children who have been in treatment – or are still in treatment – can just be regular kids. It’s so important. They’re stared at so much. People ask why you don’t have hair. They won’t have to worry about that here.”
Pearce, however, is getting used to being in the spotlight. She met Katie Couric when the CBS News anchor reported on Pearce’s experiences after a successful treatment for a brain tumor.
Pearce and her family formed The Pearce Q. Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping children who suffer with cancer.
Pearce and the foundation received tributes from the State Senate and House of Representatives for their efforts in raising funds and awareness in the battle against cancer, and Pearce had already met Governor Markell as part of those ceremonies. On Saturday, she and her mother got to talk with the governor again.
Drew Koenig, age 5, of Townsend, is also planning to attend the camp after just finishing eight months of cancer treatment.
“Being outside with other kids,” is what he’s looking forward to the most.
His younger brother Jackson, 3, said he wanted to check out the cafeteria during Saturday’s “meet-and-greet” session.
Drew’s parents, Andrew and Catherine Koenig, said the initial experience is pointing to a terrific time for Drew and the other campers in August.
“Everyone’s just been amazing,” said Catherine. “The property is gorgeous. It’s so nice and open. It’s clean and well-kept.”
Andrew said, “We’re very grateful to the Warrens and what they’ve done. It makes a huge difference for our son and all the kids.”
“Yes,” Catherine agreed. “It will be wonderful for Drew to have some real five-year-old fun and be around other kids who have something in common.”
Laurie Warren said Saturday’s event was “overwhelming.”
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I know Kaylyn’s watching, but I wish she was here. This camp, her dream, is what keeps us going. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning, and it’s so exciting that it’s going to happen.”
More campers are welcome
Kay’s Kamp still has openings for children. For registration information, call 1-888-539-3413 or see the website, www.kayskamp.org.