Camp Hope Provides Camp for Cancer Survivors

By: Jeremy Downing
By: Jeremy Downing

SCOTTSBLUFF, NE - “Forever changed.”
These simple words hold a powerful message for the cancer survivors, their support persons, and children who attend Regional West Cancer Services’ annual Camp Hope weekend.

Camp Hope is offered free of charge to cancer survivors, their support persons, and their families, through funding provided by Regional West Foundation. It is set in the serene surroundings of the North Platte River near Scotts Bluff National Monument at Trails West YMCA Camp in Scottsbluff, Neb.

This year, the camp will be held August 22, 23, and 24. Campers can relax and benefit from the compassionate support of health care providers, family, and friends while participating in a variety of activities. Cancer survivors who would like to participate can register by calling Cancer Services at 308.630.1348.

“Being around so many caring, hope‐filled, and optimistic people reminded me of something I learned long ago. There are no hopeless situations, only people who grow hopeless from lack of understanding, information, and tools,” said one former Camp Hope participant.

For the past 21 years, Camp Hope has brought growth and rewards to cancer survivors, their support systems, and the professional staff who provide the program. Camp counselors include Regional West physicians, nurses, therapists, clergy, counselors, pharmacists, social workers, associates, and volunteers.

Camp Hope gives cancer survivors an opportunity to explore the hopeful side of cancer while providing a vacation from everyday stress and worry. Participants attend group sessions to learn skills for coping with cancer and its after‐effects while enhancing their quality of life. The program incorporates a holistic approach by including sessions that address issues of the mind, body, and spirit.

Support persons, families (including their children), and friends of cancer survivors also benefit from the Camp Hope experience. Camp Hope provides several separate programs and sessions throughout the weekend for support persons only.

“After all,” said a camper, “It¹s scary watching someone you love battle cancer. (The support person) needs time to heal too.”

Recognizing that children are also affected by cancer, whether as a son, daughter, or sibling of a cancer survivor, or as cancer survivors themselves, the program also involves children in the Camp Hope experience.
“Camp Hope is a time of support and sharing. It really is a great weekend for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer,” said Carol Diffendaffer, PMHP, PMSW, OSW‐C, Cancer Services social worker and Camp Hope director. “Campers enjoy a weekend of sharing, learning, fun, entertainment, and relaxation. It’s a wonderful bonding experience for survivors and their families.”

“Being able to interact with physicians and other people surrounding the program in a casual, relaxed atmosphere is a wonderful bonus,” said a camp attendee. “It’s nice getting to know them as people instead of just as health care providers.”

For more information about Camp Hope, contact Carol Diffendaffer at 308.630.1535 or email her at diffenc@rwmc.net.


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