June 25, 2018
Plenty of children love summer camp, but the experience for campers at Camp Bring It On! is all the more meaningful.
Each summer on a rustic campus located outside of Watertown, S.D., Sanford Children’s supports Camp Bring It On!, the region’s only residential camp for pediatric cancer patients and survivors. The camp’s goal is to give these kids a sense of normalcy and camaraderie, all while delivering Sanford’s top-notch medical care.
Thanks to the philanthropy of donors, the camp is free for each child, a blessing to families who are often financially burdened with medical bills.
Campers, ages 7 to 17, participate in an array of activities including swimming, arts and crafts, tubing, archery and horseback riding. In a child’s world, this translates to dirt between their toes, cold water on their faces, a furry friend beneath their palms, and the sun warming their backs. These simple pleasures are easy to take for granted, but for kids at Camp Bring It On!, they mean everything.
The camp’s mission draws many to the counselor position. This is especially the case for Jordan Little, who experienced Camp Bring It On! as a camper and cancer patient himself before his senior year of high school. During his stay in 2013, Little fell in love with the camp, the people and its uplifting message to young cancer patients.
Little, a recent graduate of South Dakota State University, has returned as a counselor for two consecutive years. This summer, he is paired with the eight youngest boys at camp, ages 7 to 10. Little jokes that the group is “something fierce” but the work is extremely rewarding.
“Now coming back as a counselor, I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’ve never felt more fulfilled than by being here with these people,” said Little.
He understands the bond that the kids share. For some campers, the impact of cancer is apparent: some have lost their hair, have prosthetic limbs or use wheelchairs. For others, the effects are less visible, but they’ve all faced challenges beyond their years.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that ties us all together, but now we’re all a part of a bigger family,” said Little in a statement that seems to encapsulate the binding message at Camp Bing It On!
This fall, Little will be attending medical school. No doubt this path was inspired by his own medical journey and the courageous young campers he’s mentored over the past two summers.
More summer fun
Camp Bring It On! is one of five summer camps offered by Sanford Children’s. Each one is designed to give children living with specific challenges or illnesses a fun and safe experience.
Thanks to the generosity of Sanford Children’s donors, more than 250 kids had the opportunity to attend one of these camps last year.
Promotes a positive self-image and understanding of how our bodies use the “fuel” we eat.
Designed to improve the quality of life for children with spina bifida.
Focused on improving the physical condition and psychological outlook of children with asthma.
Educates children with diabetes about their disease in a safe and fun environment.