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No in-person Camp Hope this summer
camp hope file volunteers 2019
Camp Hope participants and volunteers take part in the 2019 event in this file photo. However, due to COVID-19, the 2020 installment will be a virtual camp only.

Camp Hope, a camp for children with cancer that is usually held every summer at Barton Community College’s Camp Aldrich, will not be taking place here this summer. Instead, a virtual camp is planned, according to Gail Moeder, vice president of the sponsoring agency.

In light of the ongoing SARs-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, the KyMel Inc. Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to cancel all in-person camps for summer 2020. This affects both Camp Hope, a camp for kids with cancer, and Camp SIBsational, for siblings of kids with cancer.

“One of our fundamental responsibilities is to provide a safe camping experience,” Moeder said. Since both camps involve youth with compromised immune systems, sponsors consulted with oncologists and KyMel’s medical leadership and concluded in-person camps won’t be possible this year using current public health recommendations.

“This is by far the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make. Camp Hope has been held every summer since 1983. This would have been the second year for Camp SIBsational, and we hate to lose momentum, but it is the right decision. The safety of our campers and families is most important,” Moeder said.

Summer camps improve the emotional and mental well-being of campers. That need is heightened in this era of isolation, which is why Kamp KyMel, a virtual camp experience, was created. Kamp KyMel will bring much of what makes camp special to campers, directly into their homes. This alternate virtual camp will include crafts, photography, art contests, games and virtual gatherings, such as the traditional talent show and dance.

“While it can never replace an in-person camp, we are excited to introduce Kamp KyMel,” said Bryan Wohlwent, KyMel president. “Our goal is to offer a unique experience and sense of connection for families facing cancer, while ensuring their health and safety. Camp Hope and Camp SIBsational aren’t defined by a physical location; they are defined by the campers, families and volunteers who are the heart and soul of camp. That spirit will be there for Kamp KyMel and we know without a doubt our volunteers and campers will be back, in-person, stronger than ever in 2021.”

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About KyMel Inc.

Founded in 2015, KyMel Inc. is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to provide connecting experiences for families on the cancer journey. It offers two flagship programs: Camp Hope and Camp SIBsational. Camp Hope has served campers with cancer since 1983. Camp SIBsational is the only camp in the region designed for the unique needs of siblings of kids facing cancer.