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Camp Kaleidoscope Getaway for Sick Children

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dozens of Duke Children's Hospital patients are back home after spending a week at camp. Camp Kaleidoscope is a summer camp designed to give children with illnesses a break from the hospital.

All of the campers treated at "Camp K" are just kids for the week& not patients dealing with serious illnesses.

Stephanie Leser is a pediatric nurse Duke Children's Hospital. "There's a lot of cancer kids, kids who have GI disorders, kids who have HIV."

More than a decade ago, Stephanie Leser and Jonathan VanHoose were two of the sick children at Camp K. Stephanie Had Hodgkins and Thyroid cancer and Jonathan had severe Asthma.

Jonathan says, "This camp was actually the first opportunity I could spend outdoors." Stephanie adds, "It was great to meet other kids who had cancer as well."

Now in their 20s, both former campers are working at the camp and hospital that changed their lives.

Both are now working to save others. Stephanie is a pediatric nurse at Duke. Jonathan works in the hematology/oncology clinics. They're part of the medical staff at Camp K.

Stephanie explains her role at the camp. "We had a girl we had to start an IV on her while she was here this week and it was time to go tye-dying and we just brought the IV with us."

During the week the kids do things like make tye dye t-shirts, and go sailing, canoeing. What makes this camp so special is none of the campers have to pay. Camp K Director and Clinical Social Worker, Bill Taub says, "Duke provides a significant fraction of the funding to pay for staff and medical supplies we need for camp."

But you can't put a pricetage on what Camp K does for children like 14-year-old Meghana Shamseyder. "I met my friend my first year and we've been friends ever since."

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