• Camp Okizu

    Ellen Sweigert’s leukemia treatment took a turn for the better with the family’s discovery of Camp Okizu, a summer camp for children with cancer. The camp is located at Berry Creek, California, 70 miles north of Sacramento.
    When a child is diagnosed with cancer, things change. It becomes very hard for that child to engage in activities the rest of us take for granted. Camp Okizu was set up to provide a “level playing field” for kids who have lost their hair during chemotherapy, had to face a limb amputation or suffered a relapse after months or years off treatment. Okizu is the only place other than the hospital where children undergoing treatment for cancer can interact with others in the same situation. It provides them with a true camping experience, free from having to be the “different” kid.Okizu (oak-EYE-zoo) comes from the Sioux language. It means unity, to come together, to heal from a hurt, to make whole. Camp Okizu’s mission is to provide recreational, respite and peer support programs to meet the needs of all members of families affected by childhood cancer. Their programs are the result of a collaborative effort of Okizu and pediatric oncology treatment centers located in Northern California.
    In the beginning, Camp Okizu only took the patients themselves. However, as the value of family participation quickly became apparent, the program expanded. Once the criteria are met, Okizu welcomes in all kids with cancer and their family support teams. “We never turn anyone away,” said Okizu founder John Bell. “And there’s no charge for anything.” The program is funded through grants, donations and foundations. For more information, call Camp Okizu at (415)382-9083 or log on to www.okizu.org

    posted to Cedar Street Times on May 7, 2009

    Topics: Cameron Douglas, Current Edition, Features

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