Camp del Corazon is an organization that provides a medically supervised, residential summer camp for children ages 7-17 who are living with heart disease, as well as additional programs for these children and their families.Located on Catalina Island, 22 miles off the California coastline, our camp has served approximately 300 children each year for the past 17 years. Having begun with a volunteer staff of two, 49 campers and a minimal budget, our growth and success stands as a testament to our steady commitment to the population we serve.
We offer our camping program 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 doctors’ appointments and hospital stays these children require. Children with congenital heart disease are the most underserved pediatric population in the nation, and funding and resources for these children are very scarce. The overwhelming amount of funds raised by prominent charities goes toward adults with coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. There is much attention paid to adults with heart disease, but virtually nothing for children born with damaged hearts.
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.
Sending 150 children to each camp session along with over 80 volunteer staff is an enormous under-taking. The approximate cost per child for the 5-day camp is $1,200, which does not take into account the volunteer staff and counselors’ time and experience. With the exception of office staff, Camp del Corazon is run entirely on a volunteer basis. We offer a full camping experience including sleeping in a cabin, nature walks, rock wall climbing, ropes course, arts & crafts, and many other recreational activities and programs associated with a traditional summer camp. We also provide an environment that offers support and self-esteem building and socialization that these children do not otherwise have access to.
Impact of camp studies prove that camp helps to strengthen the confidence and self-esteem of children and your support will give these very special children life-altering experiences that cannot be put into words. As a testament to the impact the camp has on these young souls, most return year after year to relive experiences they can get nowhere else. Still, there are hundreds of children we are not able to serve each year due to the tremendous resources required to make it happen.
Camp del Corazon enriches the lives of children living with heart disease. We are more than just a summer camp though. Not only do we provide a summer camp experience for children, but we also provide opportunities for growth, education and support.
We thank you for your consideration to support our camp.