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Camp Hope moves to Elmdale for 2021
Sponsors hope to return to Barton County in 2022
Camp Hope children are shown with some chalk art in this file photo from 2015. Clockwise from upper left: Hunter Donecker, age 11, Pawnee Rock; Gabriella Smith, 12, Grandview, Mo.; Sebastian Nienke, 10, Olathe; Hayden Schreiman, 9, Waverly, Mo.; Donavynn Cronk, 11, Sedalia, Mo.; and Cora Gilbreath, 11, Lawson, Mo.

Camp Hope will move to a location near Elmdale this year but sponsors say they’ll return to Barton County in the future.

The annual camp for children with cancer is operated by the nonprofit group KyMel Inc. and for most of its history it has been held at Barton Community College’s Camp Aldrich conference center.

In 2020 the KyMel board of directors made the decision to cancel all in-person camps that summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This affected both Camp Hope and Camp SIBsational, for siblings of kids with cancer, which is usually located at Camp Wood in Chase County.

According to Kymel President Gail Moeder, both Camp Hope and Camp SIBsational will be held at Camp Wood this year. In a letter to vendors and supporters, she said the two camps will be held simultaneously in August.

“Because of COVID requirements, we were not able to secure the number of volunteers necessary to operate Camp Hope at Camp Aldrich as it is 100% volunteer-run,” Moeder explained. “Camp Wood is a YMCA camp and is staffed all summer with kitchen and activity help, which are critical to both camps.”

Moeder thanked the loyal supporters who have taken part in Camp Hope over the years.

“This decision was not made lightly and we are very much looking forward to returning to Barton County and Camp Aldrich in 2022,” her letter stated. “We hope that you are willing to be a part of our 40th Camp Hope at that time.”

Camp Hope has been held every summer since 1983 and until last year had been held in Barton County every summer since 1984. It offers a free, fun camp experience to children 5-17 years old who have or have had cancer. There is also a day camp starting at age 4 for youths who are too young or simply unable to attend the full week of camp.

Camp SIBsational, the first sibling-only camp of its kind in the region, is for kids between the ages of 5 and 17. It was first offered in 2019.

In 2020 the board chose to offer virtual camps that children could attend from home.

Camp Hope is accredited by the American Camp Association. A full medical staff on-site allows campers to attend even if they are on active treatment. Typically, a team of 120 volunteers — including physicians, oncology nurses, ER nurses, pediatric nurses, pharmacists, and a mental health specialist — assist 60-80 campers each summer.