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AYA Camps and Outdoor Programs

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Camp Mak-A-Dream – www.campdream.org
Camp Mak-A-Dream provides medically-supervised, cost-free Montana experiences, in an intimate community setting for young adults (ages 18-45) affected by cancer. Due to the pandemic, this year’s program will be exclusively virtual. Apply online.

  • June 15-17

First Descents – www.firstdescents.org
First Descents provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults (age 18-39) impacted by cancer. First Descents offers a multitude of cost-free adventure programs for young adults both on and off treatment. Experiences are designed to empower you to climb, paddle and surf beyond your diagnosis, reclaim your life and connect with others doing the same. Please visit the First Descents website to find a program fit for you. In-person experiences continue throughout 2021

Big Sky Kids – www.eaglemount.org/programs/summer/big-sky-kids
Big Sky Kids oncology camps are designed for young people with cancer and their families. Big Sky Kids offers a Young Adult Retreat. YAR is designed for young adults (16-23) in remission. For a full week, you'll be immersed in adventurous outdoor activities, the camaraderie of a small group, and the opportunity to develop the unique and powerful leadership skills within yourself. YAR is a travelling camp with an itinerary that changes from year to year, so veteran campers get to see many different aspects of Montana's beauty. The retreat is medically supervised by a volunteer nurse and the only cost is transportation to and from Bozeman, MT. Currently scheduled for August 5-13, 2021 but to be confirmed by May 15, 2021.

True North Treks – http://www.truenorthtreks.org/
True North Treks is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young adult cancer survivors in the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. The program offers short term wilderness experiences, during which you will learn outdoor skills as well as mindfulness meditation. True North Treks requires that you must have been diagnosed with cancer between ages 18-39 and that you are currently off treatment. Apply online.

  • August 22–28, 2021: Yellowstone Backpacking Week-Long Trek in Wyoming (Survivor trip)
  • September 16–19, 2021: UP Mini Trek for Young Adult Survivors in Michigan (Survivor trip)
  • September 23–26, 2021: UP Mini Trek in Michigan (Survivor/Caregiver trip)
  • October 3-10, 2021: Canoeing trip in Utah (Survivor/Caregiver trip)

Epic Experience – www.epicexperience.org
Epic Experience offers free week-long outdoor experiences to individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer. Throughout the experience, participants will be encouraged to recognize the reality that cancer is a part of their story, but it does not define them. Connections with other individuals who share a similar story create a community that lasts long after their Epic Experience has ended. During COVID-19, Epic Experience is offering a virtual 3-day camp program during the pandemic that will connect cancer survivors and caregivers via Zoom. Apply on the website. They also offer virtual exercise programs and online workshops.

Camps on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Camp Koru – https://www.projectkoru.org/camp-koru
Camp Koru is a camp to help cancer survivors diagnosed between 18 and 39 to find healing and renewal throughout outdoor experiences in the ocean and mountains. Camp is free but travel covered by participant. Fundraising tips are available on the website. Apply online to join the waitlist once it is safe to travel again.

Dream Street at Canyon Ranch – https://dreamstreetfoundation.org
Dream Street provides nationwide camping programs for young adults (ages 18-24) with chronic and life threatening illnesses at the Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Young adults with cancer, blood disorders, and other diseases are given the opportunity to enjoy activities and "spa" services. Dream Street is a cost free camp that also covers transportation costs. Visit the website for information about camp in 2022!

Possible resources for financial assistance for attending camp:

  • The Cassie Hines Shoes Cancer Foundation offers travel assistance and funding to campers. However, all travel assistance funding is based on a first come, first serve basis with preference given to first time campers. Learn more at http://cassiehinesshoescancer.org/survivorship-programs/chscf-travel-assistance.
  • L.I.F.E. provides assistance to cancer patients in need. The amount of each grant depends on the availability of funds but is approximately $1,000. Criteria for assistance include patients who: are between the ages of 18 and 30; are a U.S. Citizen; have a cancer diagnosis; are currently in treatment; are in a state of financial need; and the application should be submitted by a social worker or medical caregiver on their website: https://givetolife.org/.
  • Please note that some of these camps/programs also offer individual scholarships to assist with either camp costs or transportation. Please call the programs directly for further details.
  • Cook Children's Medical Center may be able to assist in paying travel expenses to and from camp if you are currently on treatment or have been off of treatment for up to 2 years. Please note: Cook Children’s will not be paying for in-person camps in 2021.

We're here to help

Please see individual websites to receive updates and to complete camp applications. If you would like assistance choosing the right program for you, speak with your Child Life Specialist about these great options. For additional information, contact the AYA Team by email: ayaprogram@cookchildrens.org.