Camp Oki is AWESOME!!! I have been a ‘Sick Kid’ for my whole life and for six of those years I have been able to go to this great camp for kids just like me! It is a place where I can go and feel just like every other kid.
This year, camp was at a new location so I was not sure what to expect but it turned out to be just as good; maybe even better! Swimming, waterskiing, rock climbing, archery, arts, rope courses, and tons of games and activities are just a few of the things we get to do at Camp Oki. There is so much to do that you do not even think about being bored.
Every morning at breakfast, we played the “this is the way” game. For those who were there, you know what I am talking about – and for those who were not there; you have so much to look forward to!
The doctors, nurses and other staff take such good care of us so all we have to worry about is having fun! We are so well taken care of! Camp Oki is my home away from home. It is something I look forward to every year and it is a place that has never turned me away.
Plainly, I love Oki!!!
See you next year!
Joseph ,14, has been a cardiac patient at The Hospital for Sick Children since the age of one. This is his sixth year at Camp Oki. Camp Oki is Canada’s only camp for kids with heart disease. This year, more than 80 kids attended Camp Oki, which was held at Camp Oochigeas on Lake Rosseau. Camp Oki provides a safe and enjoyable recreational environment for kids who are unable to attend mainstream summer camping programs. The camp is staffed by volunteers from the Labatt Family Heart Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children and depends entirely on donations.
Written by guest blogger Dr. Joel Kirsh.
In two short days, I will be travelling north with two buses, 80 kids and 30 counsellors, on our way to what is increasingly known as “the best place in the universe.” Camp Oki is a summer camp like no other – it’s Canada’s first and only camp for kids with heart disease.
Camp Oki was created for kids who were “shut out” of mainstream camp programs due to a variety of cardiac conditions – and misperceptions of what these “kids with special hearts” could and couldn’t do. Thanks to our volunteers and generous donors, the camp has steadily grown from a long weekend program in 2004 for children with pacemakers and defibrillators to a week-long program for kids with any type of heart disease.
Camp Oki is a place where kids with heart disease can experience camp to the fullest – going tubing, swimming, playing sports, and making friends – a place where kids can, quite simply, be kids. At camp, they are encouraged to try new things – there is no sitting on the sidelines because you have a pacemaker or because you’ve had a heart transplant. Some of our campers first came to Camp Oki saying “I can’t do it”; they leave camp a week later saying, “I can do anything.”
This year, thanks to a generous donation from Cardiac Kids and The Firkin Group of Pubs, we are welcoming even more Camp Oki campers than before, at the Camp Oochigeas site in Rosseau. I’m excited about this new facility and looking forward to seeing both the new and familiar faces at camp this year.
Dr. Joel Kirsh is a staff cardiologist at The Hospital for Sick Children, a staff physician in Critical Care Medicine and an associate professor in Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. He is also the Founder and Medical Director of Camp Oki.