Lehigh Valley

Camp for children affected by cancer

Camp for children affected by cancer

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A summer camp in Allentown this week is all about kids affected by cancer.

Camp SMILE is for kids who have cancer, cancer survivors and siblings of children who have gone through cancer.

The Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley and the Coco Foundation, two local  pediatric cancer organizations, are running the camp at Cedar Crest College. It's no cost to families.

About 30 children are attending the week-long camp.

"We have about eight kids who are currently in treatment, we have about eight kids here who are survivors and then the rest are siblings," said Michelle Zenie, the PCFLV's executive director. "We have everything here from leukemias to brain cancer. We also do try to include families who have lost a child. We do have a couple siblings here of somebody who has passed."

"It's important on many levels, emotional and just kind of social support, just let the kids learn there's other people out there in their same situation," said Kyle O'Neill, executive director of the Coco Foundation.

Children attending the camp range in age from four to 13.

"It's good to be around kids that get it and understand," said Travis Cook, 12, who said he has been going through chemotherapy for a brain tumor. "I'm growing my hair to donate it. I feel lucky to have my hair so I want to give it to another kid that wasn't as lucky as me."

The camp gives the children a week to get away from doctors and hospitals and just be kids. They participate in sports, theater and art activities and have a chance to swim in the pool at Rodale Aquative Center.

"They're allowed to be kids but they're also doing it in the comfort of a community of people who know each other and know the battles that they're going through," said Zenie.

"It's really a good experience and I'm glad I get to do it," Cook said.

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