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Camp Hope completes 40th year
kissing the fish
Tuesday was fishing day at Camp Hope. There is a camp tradition to “kiss” the first catch of the day. - Photos Courtesy of KyMel, Inc.

Camp Hope returned last week to in-person camp at Camp Aldrich near Claflin from June 19-25. It was the camp’s 40th year of providing summer fun for youths who have, or have had, cancer.

According to KyMel Inc. Media Representative Barb Keltner, the return in 2022 to an in-person camp experience was extremely successful, and campers were glad to be back.

During 2020 and 2021, though the camp was not held in person, Keltner said, several virtual camps were held through Zoom, including a Magic camp with a real magician, Sporting KC Camp, a Denver Broncos camp with Broncos offensive lineman and K-State alumn Dalton Risner, NASA Camp with an astronaut, Lego Camp with a Lego Master, Arts and Crafts Camp, Talent Show, and more. 

“These were very well attended by both our Camp Hope campers and our sister camp, Camp SIBsational, for the siblings of kids with cancer,” Keltner said.

This year, Camp Hope hosted around 40 campers due to health and safety precautions. As is the case every year, the camp included an all-volunteer full medical staff and volunteer kitchen staff.

At Camp Aldrich, activities included a carnival, face painting, crafts and a hayrack ride.

Tuesday was fishing day at what Bernard and Marilyn Krier, who provided the pond, dubbed, “Camp Hope Pond.” The Kriers had smoothed the area around the pond, which made it easier for campers to get around.

“What a surprise to us (when we found out). We love it, the fish were definitely biting big time,” Keltner said.

Thursday evening, the campers traveled to the Crest Theater in Great Bend for their Talent Show, complete with red carpet, “and it was amazing,” Keltner said. Campers sang, played a sonata on a piano keyboard, performed gymnastics, dances, a flute solo, and inflatable bowling demonstration – complete with “flying” shoes during the kicks.

The camp also included trips to Walnut Bowl and the Wetlands Waterpark for miniature golfing and a little fun in the sun.

Friday was the Camp Hope Gaga Ball tournament. “Our campers love that gaga ball pit,” Keltner said.  

Friday evening was the camp dance. This year’s theme was “Fairytale Enchanted Forest.”

Saturday brought the Camp Closing Ceremony before the parents came to pick up the campers. “Then the volunteers clean up the camp and head home with big smiles on both our faces and our hearts,” Keltner said. “It’s been a wonderful week — and we can’t wait to get back in 2023.”