Who are the Campers
- All the campers are patients of Pediatric Cardiology Associates of Western New York.
- The youngest campers are 9 years old; as campers age they become counselors and then staff enhancing the family atmosphere.
- Campers come from the eight counties of Western New York.
- Veteran campers return as staff from where life has taken them, including as far away as California and Florida.
- Campers have been diagnosed with and are being treated for a variety of heart disease problems. Some of these include: atrial septal defects, ventricular septal defects, coarctation of the aorta, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (single ventricle anatomy), tetralogy of Fallot, and congenital cardiomyopathies. Several campers are heart transplant recipients.
What the Campers are saying
“What makes camp special is the people. This is the only place growing up that every person understood. There is a special bond that we all share. Camp means family to me.” – Meme
“Camp is a place where I can be myself, camp means family and friends who are all alike. It is where I learned to not be afraid to show my athletic abilities and not be mocked by my peers. Camp teaches friendship and life values. It teaches you how others hearts work and how we are all special and different.”
“Camp is where I learned that I was not alone, that there were other people going through similar situations that I was. Because they knew what I was experiencing on a daily basis, we were about to share stories and help each other deal with everyday situations. Those people have become more than campers, they are friends and family. We support each other.”
“Dreams from the Heart Camp brings together kids and staff alike who share similar experiences, difficulties, and interests. It’s become a place of tradition as kids who were campers return year after year to meet with their “camp family”. I’ve had the honor of attending camp and meeting lifelong friends who understand wholly living with a heart condition. We treat each other as if we are family, creating a warm and welcome experience for any new attendees.”
“Heart camp is a place where people with heart conditions can come in, be welcomed and make friends that will last a lifetime. It is a place to discuss heart-related issues in an open manner with no worries of being judged or made fun of about it. Plus it’s a way you can learn more about your body and what you went through on a more personal level with peers your age and the doctors who see you. Heart camp is a home away from home, you can come back year after year and pick up like you were only apart for a day and hang-out with friends.”
“For me, camp is where I learned for the first time that I was not alone in my experiences. Camp is an experience that I would recommend for anyone, no matter their age. Even if you don’t think you could benefit from going, maybe you are the friend someone else needs. I have formed some of my closest lifelong friendships and best support system at camp that I would never have had if I didn’t make the decision so may years ago to go (and to keep going).”
“Dreams from the Heart Camp means so much more than a 3-night summer camp to me; it instead is a group of people who have become my family. Dreams from the Heart Camp is special because everyone can relate to one another. From the new campers to the veterans, to the doctors, nurses, and all the staff in between that make it possible, we all share a common bond. This bond unites us in a way that is unexplainable and unbreakable.”