Camp can be an exciting and formative time during kids’ summer vacations, however for many parents with children with a heart disease, it might not be considered an option. As the director of one of several camps aimed specifically at children with heart disease, I am excited that SADS has given me the platform that there are indeed options.
Camp Odayin is a Minnesota based nonprofit providing fun, safe and supportive camp experiences for young people with heart disease and their families. We offer parents a worry free opportunity to send their child to camp in a medically safe environment. Our programs include:
- Family Camp – located in Amery, WI (near Minneapolis/St. Paul) and Camp Lake WI (near Milwaukee/Chicago). Our fall Family Camp program unites parents, grandparents, kids with heart disease and siblings to have fun, learn, share and connect over their common bonds. Make Family Camp a tradition for your family! It’s a wonderful weekend to get introduced to the Camp Odayin mission and staff. Tons of fun, parent education opportunities, private family housing options, relationship building with heart families, including your own.
- Residential Camp – located in Crosslake, Minnesota (central Minnesota) and Elkhorn, WI (near Milwaukee/Chicago). Campers in grades 1-11 come from all over the United States for a week of memories and kindred friendships. Campers enjoy horseback riding, archery, nature, arts and crafts, kayaking, tubing, stand-up paddle boarding and more.
- Winter Camp – located in Amery, WI (near Minneapolis/St. Paul). Our 3-day February weekend is packed with snow tubing, broomball and crafts for campers in grades 1-12.
- Day Camp – located in St. Paul, MN. Our week-long, full day, day camp program gives our youngest campers the opportunity to explore nature, enjoy themed activities and introduced to the Camp Odayin family. This camp is for campers in grades K-3.
All of our camp programs are staffed by volunteers, many of whom have cardiovascular disease themselves. Over 125 individuals donate a week of their lives to support our summer camp programs each year. During each session of Residential Camp, at least two pediatric cardiologists are onsite at all times. Cabin groups of 6-8 campers are cared for by a cabin nurse and two counselors. Cabin nurses monitor the health of each camper, distribute medications, and provide emergency responses as needed. Every volunteer receives training prior to the start of camp, which includes information about pediatric cardiac conditions, childhood development, policies and procedures, and appropriate responses to various situations. Following camp, when asked if their child was medically safe at Camp Odayin, 98% of parents surveyed indicated ‘strongly agree’ and the remaining 2% marked ‘agree’.
Some words from our participants:
“I feel like I have a new family and my camp friends are my brothers.”
“My daughter had an amazing time last week and can’t stop talking about camp. The first thing she said was, ‘sign me up for winter camp, family camp, or anything Camp Odayin offers’. She really connected with the other campers and enjoyed the variety of fun activities.”
“I want to say a HUGE thank you for an amazing weekend! This was our first Family Camp and we are so excited to make it an annual event! It was great to connect with other families, spend time together, just relax and have fun. Everything was so well organized and made the entire weekend stress free for the families… We love Camp Odayin!”
All of our camps are offered to our families for a minimal $25 fee.