MILLVILLE, Pa. – For most kids, summer camp means time away from classes and homework, but for kids at Camp Dost, it means time away from the hospital and a chance to just be a kid.
Every year, the Ronald McDonald House of Danville holds a week-long camp for children with cancer.
Tuesday morning at Camp Dost near Millville means making slime during arts and crafts, and since this year's theme is "decades," it also includes dancing to '80s music.
For kids whose days are usually filled with doctor's appointments and chemo, that means a lot.
"These kids are told 'no' every day. No, they can't do things because of their medications or because of their limitations due to their cancer, and to be able to tell them 'yes' and to be able to give them that summer they deserve is really awesome," said Devon Gulick, Camp Dost director.
Seven-year-olds Lexi Cable and Leslie Moore met each other when they were next-door neighbors at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital. They became instant friends. When Newswatch 16 asked Lexi and Leslie what their favorite part of camp was, their answer was simple:
"Being with my best friend."
For 12-year-old Destinee Larocca, Camp Dost is a chance to meet new friends.
"Everyone is always laughing and stuff. No one gets into arguments here. It's really fun," Larocca said.
"She's going through the hard chemo and losing her hair and feeling sick and just kind of feeling down in the dumps at times. It's great to see her out here having fun and meeting new friends and just enjoying herself," said Jake Troutman, a camp counselor and a physician at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital.
Something that makes this camp unique is the "Med Shed," so that kids like Destinee, Lexi, and Leslie can have as much fun as they want while still getting the medicine and care they need, letting kids be kids while reminding them that they're not alone.
"You know, you come here and you see other kids with scars, other kids without hair, and you know you're not alone in all this," said Troutman.
Thanks to funding from the Ronald McDonald House of Danville, the camp is completely free for kids to attend.
It runs until July 12, and the camp counselors tell Newswatch 16 that as soon as the kids leave, they start the countdown to next year at Camp Dost.