Summer Camp for Kids Fighting Cancer

MILLVILLE, Pa. -- While summer means fun for most kids, that's not often the case for kids with cancer.

A week-long camp filled with some of summer's best activities and a team of medical professionals on staff, makes for the most memorable week for them.

For one week, kids with cancer will experience a somewhat normal summer, and Danville's Ronald McDonald House has made it all possible. Geisinger's cancer patients get to do all this for free.

"Last year, I came to volunteer for the photo booth, and I got to see the camp, and I thought it was really cool, and then like a month later, I got diagnosed," said 12-year-old Olivia Rogers.

Olivia has a type of blood cancer and gets her monthly treatments at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville. She's just one of the nearly 90 campers attending the week-long Camp Dost in Columbia County.

Jillian McGeehin, 13, is tagging along with her 6-year-old brother Daniel this week.

"He has ALL Leukemia T-cell, and he's in treatment until April of 2020."

Each cancer patient gets to invite one sibling, and although every camper's story is different, they feel they are all sort of going through the same thing.

"It's amazing because every kid here has something in common. You all have been through the same stuff. It's a lot easier to become friends and meet new people," Jillian said.

"To give them a break from the hospital, a week of fun, a chance to have a normal childhood that they don't actually get with their doctors' visits and hospital stays and appointments and everything else that they have to go through," said camp director Devon Gulick.

The theme of this year's week-long camp is "Happy Holidays," and Tuesday's holiday was Christmas. Counselors and campers like to say Camp Dost is even better than Christmas!

"It is better than Christmas, and today is Christmas and camp all combined in one, so I don't know how it can get any better than this," said Gulick.

But while it feels like Christmas in here, it definitely doesn't outside.

Gulick says the campers start out the week with scarves and beanies on their heads, despite the heat.

"By the end of the week, these kids have so much self-confidence, they're taking their wigs off. They're taking their scarves off. They don't care that their head is bald. They know that there are kids just like them," Gulick said.

That, she says, is the most rewarding part.

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