You might think that having to go to dialysis multiple times a week might prevent a kid from attending camp.
You would think wrong.
This year, six patients from University Health System — two from dialysis and four from transplant — went to Camp Reynal and had a blast.
“It is quite fun. I get to meet a lot of other kids; they have the same issues as me. It creates a family,” said Gabrielle Sanchez, who has attended for four years. “It is super-exciting to go every year. There’s a new addition to the camp each year; this year it was a treehouse like the one in To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Camp Reynal is a six-day residential camp program provided by the National Kidney Foundation to provide a true summer camp experience for children with renal and urology disease. Camp Reynal, hosted by Camp John Marc, is held at a state-of-the-art therapeutic camping facility near Meridian, northwest of Waco.
Camp Reynal accepts approximately 100 campers, who stay in air-conditioned cabins with trained volunteer cabin counselors. Their days are filled with swimming, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, photography, dance, singing, sports and games, and other fun activities.
This was Gabrielle’s last year as a camper. Only kids ages 8-16 can attend. However, she plans to be back as counselor when she turns 18. She hopes to become a nurse or a surgeon someday. But she wants to encourage other kids on dialysis to consider attending next year.
Beyond the traditional camp activities like swimming, canoeing and ziplining, Gabrielle said the best part is just seeing her friends again, the ones she can’t see in person throughout the year.
They stay in contact with each other, support each other and cheer each other on: “Just a week after camp, my friend Richard had his kidney transplant,” Gabrielle said. “We were all encouraging him.”