Camp Korey hosts a Reconstructive Pelvic Medicine (RPM) session every summer that accepts children diagnosed with a variety of different conditions affecting their colorectal and pelvic areas. Kids with these conditions often have little to no bowel control, which can lead to many different types of struggles medically and psychosocially. These types of diseases can often be isolating and create a feeling of embarrassment for children when they have accidents that they are unable to control around their families and friends. To help create a more normalized life for these kids, they go through bowel management surgeries that provide them with more control over their bodies.
When campers come to Camp Korey for the first time there is a lot of unknown. They may ask “Where will I be sleeping,” or “Who will be my counselor?” But campers with RPM often ask, “where and when will I complete my bowel program?” Camp Korey’s medical team provides complete care for campers when they are at camp, which includes their individual bowel programs. Campers will sometimes have to sit on the toilet for an hour or longer completing their bowel programs. Campers who come to Camp Korey may stress over missing out on fun while doing their bowel program. That is why in 2019, the Medical team and Child Life team came up with a plan to not only normalize their daily medical needs, but make it fun!
This year Camp Korey hosted our first ever Poop Party! Kids are often left to do their bowel preps alone. They may watch tv on an iPad, complete homework, or simply wait to be finished. But at camp, we wanted to show our campers that there are a lot of kids who are experiencing similar challenges and that this was a safe place for them to share these challenges. During the poop party, every camper received their own bathroom stall to complete their bowel program alongside their new friends they had met at camp. The Medical team monitored all the medical needs, while the Child Life team provided the fun and entertainment of the poop party! Campers played games, shared their favorite camp cheers, and talked about their medical conditions during the poop party. Overall, campers left their bowel programs laughing and thinking about the new friends they made, rather than their medical condition that often leaves them feeling different.
Through camp, kids were able to experience their medical challenges with others. Camp was able to take an experience that can often be humiliating and difficult to talk about and turn it into something normal and shared among their peers. This left a lasting impact on the campers. Several campers participated in the poop party throughout the week and had an amazing time. One camper left Camp Korey saying the poop party was her favorite part of the week and she couldn’t wait to return to Camp Korey next year for more poop parties! Camp created a chance for kids to feel normal, bond over similar challenges, and learn that they are not alone.
-Amanda, Child Life Specialist