Camp Couchiching is offering a unique opportunity to children and youths living with epilepsy who want a taste of what Summerfest Camp is like without committing to full two-week programs.
The three-day “mini Summerfest Camp” is being held over the Victoria Day weekend, May 21-23.
The opportunity also helps alleviate anxieties for parents who may have concerns about leaving their children for extended periods of time, says Oona Ashmore, summer camp director at Camp Couchiching, where Summerfest Camp has been held every year since 1994.
Summerfest Camp has nurses and counsellors who have training in working with people with seizure disorders. The major aim of the program is to provide a camping experience for children with epilepsy in an environment where they can be themselves and their parents can take comfort in knowing their children are in safe hands.
Ashmore characterizes the weekend Summerfest Camp as a “smaller version of the summer camp.” She says she has seen many children participate in the three-day camp and enjoy it so much they sign up for a two-week session in summer.
“It’s an opportunity for kids and their families to fall in love with the camp,” Ashmore tells Voices of Epilepsy. “For families who have children with medical uncertainties, it’s a really nice opportunity to see their kids come back with really great, exciting stories about how much they liked camp.
“And the parents hear how the staff is responsible and were paying attention to the kids’ needs, which makes the parents more comfortable.”
Summerfest Camp enables children aged six to 15 who are living with seizure disorders to attend camp with other children. The camp provides a setting where children can relax and have a good time. While at the camp, the children participate in activities such as swimming, hiking, kayaking and sports.
This year, the Summerfest Camp’s summer program will be offered in five sessions:
Session 1: July 3-15
Session 2: July 17-29
Session 3: July 31-Aug. 12
Session 4: Aug. 14-26
Session 5: Aug. 28-Sept. 2 (one-week session)
To ensure as many children as possible can attend Summerfest Camp, Epilepsy Ontario provides a limited number of sponsorships for families who require financial assistance. The sponsorship request form can be found on the Epilepsy Ontario website.
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