Supporting teens with cancer is one of the most important programs Camp SAM provides. When a teen loses their hair, goes through difficult body changes or even worse, loses a limb, the feelings of isolation and withdrawal from their friends at school can become common occurrence. Camp SAM believes in providing supportive social outlets for teens with cancer. Whether they are on or off therapy, the support of other teens through Camp SAM becomes an extension of their immediate family. Not only does Camp SAM provide a week of camp for this age group, but we also provides a teen trip every other year. Teen campers have traveled to cities such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta free of charge to the families. Campers have also engaged in some adventurous activities such as white water rafting the Ocoee, Nantahala, Nolichucky, and the Colorado rivers. Teen campers have also snow skied in Park City and Steamboat. Each of these trips has provided avenues for teens to build relationships with one another, learn things about themselves and become educated about travel and the places visited.
As children with cancer live longer and grow into adulthood, one of the most important programs Camp SAM has developed is educating these young adult survivors about being prepared for life after cancer. Through quarterly dinners hosted by Camp SAM, our staff helps hold the young adults accountable for the personal goals they set for themselves while at the annual Young Adult Retreat in August. Their goals are career-oriented, address survivorship issues or other personal achievements they desire to accomplish. At these dinners, Camp staff “check-in” with each participant to evaluate progress in accomplishing their goals and offer support and encouragement to them as well.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it is not just the child but the entire family that is diagnosed. The family experiences a ‘split’ when the child with cancer spends weeks on end in the hospital. One parent is often taking care of the sick child and the other is at home ‘juggling’ the other family and work responsibilities. Camp SAM recognizes the importance of providing many family-oriented activities to help keep the family unit together. Camp SAM gives free tickets to families to enjoy a day at the circus, zoo, Disney on Ice, a college gymnastics meet or other family-centered events.