As a member of the Arthritis Foundation, I received many mailings and magazines related to arthritis and the effects it has on my life. When new drugs go on the market or are removed for various reasons, we are kept informed. I still miss my Vioxx, but research revealed that it had fatal consequences, so I guess they know what is best for us. One of the things that many people are not aware of; is that kids get arthritis too. I was a teenager when I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis, so we have been together for many years. But imagine a child being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis; while all the other kids are running and jumping and just being kids, you cannot accomplish the same things. Well there is a place kids can go during the summer, where they can just be kids among their peers; other kids who understand the need for blood tests every six weeks, the reason they sometimes need splints to wear to bed or the need for cold or hot packs. They are sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation chapters and called M.A.S.H. (make arthritis stop hurting). They are often held at camps especially for children with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. Here the children can take part in activities such as horseback riding, rope climbing, dances, crafts, swimming and many more fun things.
One of the camps in Wisconsin, called Camp M.A.S.H., is an Easter Seals facility that offers elevators, wheelchair ramps and other accommodations to make the children’s lives easier. Each camp has at least one pediatric rheumatologist and pediatric nurse on staff. Many activities are geared toward educating kids further about their conditions and are geared to their age groups.
A sampling of the camps is as follows:
Conducted by the Northern California Chapter
Duration 5 days/4 nights
Fees: $50 per camper (scholarships available)
No geographic restrictions; most campers are from northern California or Nevada; ages 8-13.
Ropes course, carnival, arts and crafts, swimming, movie night, campfire activities, dance performance on visitor’s day, capture the flag.
Contact: Emma Dayrell-Stulen, 415-356-5488, email@example.com
Conducted by the New Jersey Chapter
Duration: 6 days/5 nights
Fees: $350/camper; scholarships offered
Campership: Kids ages 8/16 from NJ, NY, Eastern Pennsylvania and New England
Activities: Zip line, paintball, swimming, boating, challenge course, fishing, and educational sessions.
Contact: Peggy Lotkowictz, 732-283-4300 (ext. 319), firstname.lastname@example.org
Conducted by: Alabama Chapter
Duration: 5 days/4 nights
Fees: No cost
Campership: Kids ages 4-18 from around the state.
Horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, ropes course, arts and crafts, skeet shooting, fishing and end-of-camp party.
Contact: Kim Gallops, 251-243-0534, email@example.com
For further information regarding other camps in your area.