Rainbow Camp Provides Fun For Sick Kids
FREDONIA - This is the week many sick kids in the Milwaukee area look forward to all year: the chance to spend the day at camp.
There is simple joy in seeing a child smile. It's universal and the driving force behind what's become a tradition at the Jewish Community Center's Rainbow Day Camp in Fredonia.
“This is the week that I look forward to and most of my staff look forward to because these are kids that really need a fun day,” Lenny Kass said.
Each day it's a different group: oncology, rheumatology, and Wednesday, for the first time: burn victims.
“It's beautiful out here. We're climbing walls to the clouds, the heavens,” camper Andrew Carter said.
For a day -- even a moment -- a chance to forget past pain -- the sterile environment from which they came.
“Spend a day where they're not hurting, they get to go climbing and boating and do all sorts of things that they haven't normally been able to do while in the hospital,” Children’s Hospital physical therapist Stacy Barry Coffey said.
A couple weeks ago, there was a grandma and grandpa weekend up at camp. They call it Bohbie and Zaidie camp. Each grandchild brought a stuffed animal and made a card for one of this week's visitors. There weren't enough, so one grandmother was so moved she donated another 300 plush pieces so no one would leave empty handed.
Volunteerism is a key to the success. In fact, this year, two high school students raised $2,700 for camp.
“So I wanted to make it possible for them to come up and enjoy themselves,” counselor Shelby Kass said.
It all supports the long term take away: memories of how someone cared and gave them a chance to just be a kid.