This camp was featured on an episode of ER - it is a real life camp that helps children with Heart Disease.
Camp del Corazon is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides year-round opportunities for children faced with the challenges of growing up and living with heart disease. What began with a volunteer staff of only 2 members, 49 campers and a very minimal budget in 1995 has grown to serve over 500 children from around the country each year.
Our camp is located on Catalina Island, 22 miles off the California coastline. We are a medically supervised, experiential summer camp for children ages 7-17. In addition to our camp programs, we also provide opportunities for growth, education and support for young adults ages 18-25 going through transitional changes into adulthood.
The children served by Camp del Corazon are not eligible for the summer camping experience offered by other member agencies of the American Camping Association due to the fact that they require round-the-clock medical supervision and care. Many of these children have had several open-heart surgeries, pacemakers, and/or heart transplants, and many face several more surgeries in their futures. These children and their families live every day knowing that they are at a high-risk for mortality. Our camp offers an opportunity to finally be ‘normal,’ to forget their ailments and to connect with others who have had similar experiences and scars.
For most of these children, this is the only experience they have away from home, as they are often too sick to go on vacations or to even stay overnight at a friend’s house, away from their parents, who have to monitor their health on a 24-hour basis. Parents of children with heart conditions are often fearful that activities enjoyed by ‘normal’ kids could be harmful. There are very few camps with the ability or medically trained staff to provide for these special needs children, or places that their parents would trust.
All programs are offered free-of-charge as the families affected by this disease already incur incredible financial burdens from medical bills and often have to seek private or home schooling due to the numerous doctor appointments and hospital stays their children require. We are a grass-roots organization that is funded entirely through individuals, corporations and fundraisers. We receive no government funding or aid. Our programs are staffed entirely by volunteer doctors, nurses and counselors.
For more information on Camp del Corazon, please visit us at www.campdelcorazon.org.