In 1998, The Periwinkle Foundation identified a need to provide emotional support for teenagers with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. There were no programs that focused exclusively on 13 to 18 year old patients who were struggling with adolescence as well as life threatening illnesses. A teen camp was created and the first campers named it Camp YOLO for You Only Live Once.
“YOLO isn’t an excuse to make bad or irresponsible choices. It means making your life worth living, something to be remembered for, changing the world.”
Sara – YOLO Counselor
Quick Facts About Camp YOLO
When: Twice a year (April & September)
Spring Camp YOLO April 20-22, 2018
Fall Camp YOLO September 21-23, 2018
Where: Camp For All, near Brenham, TX
Who: Patients, ages 13-18, receiving care from the Cancer and Hematology Centers, Cardiology Center (Heart Center), Rheumatology Clinic, Renal Center (Kidney Center), Allergy and Immunology Center, and Retrovirology Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital. Each patient may take one sibling in the same age range.
Contact: Larry Geiger at 713.807.0191 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Camp YOLO is free for all participants.
Now in its 18th year, Camp YOLO addresses the unique challenges faced by adolescents living with cancer, renal, cardiac or HIV-related illnesses. While most teens are worrying about acne, getting a ride to the mall or how many text messages they can send, teens with serious illnesses are confronting very real life issues and seemingly unending hospital routines.
Yet for two weekends each year, these young people have a chance to rejuvenate with others who understand their struggles, anxieties and fears. Campers learn teamwork and leadership skills and by the end of a fun packed and emotion filled weekend, they leave knowing they are not alone and they have what it takes to keep fighting their illness and face the challenges that life sends their way.
Programming includes activities such as arts & crafts, horseback riding, ropes course, canoeing, fishing, archery, target paintball, swimming, photography, sports, cooking and much more. Some of the night activities campers enjoy at camp include dance party, night zip, campfire & s’mores, night swim, camp wide kick ball game and so much more. Additional special programming may include a wish boat ceremonies, special inspirational speakers, and opportunities to share hopes and fears, successes and challenges.
Over 200 teen campers attend Camp YOLO each year. Children currently in therapy can continue treatment at camp. Medical staff are on duty 24 hours a day. Camp YOLO is held at the Camp For All facility in Burton, TX.
Benefits of Camp YOLO
Teens with cancer and other life threatening illnesses and their families suffer emotionally as well as physically from these devastating challenges. They deal with very adult issues of life and death. Their time is spent at the hospital, not “hanging” with their peers, undergoing treatments that rob them of their strength and vitality. At a critical time in their lives where appearance is everything, they can lose not only their hair, but also the use of their arms, legs, or cognitive skills.
Camp YOLO seeks to rehabilitate the emotional well-being of teens with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses through uplifting activities in a safe environment away from the hospital routine.
They learn the importance of working as a team. Their independence grows as they are encouraged to be more responsible for their own choices and decisions.
An important part of Camp YOLO is the special programming activities where the teens have opportunities to express their fears and needs. After feeling different at school because of how they might look, they discover they are not alone and begin to feel good about themselves again.
“Camp YOLO has changed my life. It has inspired me to be the best person I can be. It has made me want to help other people as long as can. I have made lifelong friends who inspire me every day.” – Camper
“Camp YOLO is the best thing ever, like no joke. I never knew how much I need YOLO until I finally came, and I don’t regret coming for the world” – Camper
Before I came to Camp YOLO, I felt…
“…excited because I knew I was spending the weekend with my 2nd family”- Camper
“I was worth passing through all of the cancer stuff to be here. Camps YOLO is amazing. It changed my life” – Camper
Camp YOLO Spring 2017
Camp YOLO Fall 2017