A Revolutionary Idea

In 1975, the Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation came up with a revolutionary idea — a sleep-over summer camp program for children with chronic kidney disorders. The kidney campers receive dialysis treatments in the state-of-the-art Ruth Gottscho Dialysis Center located in the camp’s new Guenther Family Wellness Center.

Today, when you visit the Frost Valley YMCA camp in New York’s Catskill Mountains, you see hundreds of kids swimming, boating, horseback riding, playing volleyball and more. As you look around, you’d be hard-pressed to pick out those who receive dialysis treatments as part of their routine. And that’s the whole idea. During their two-week stay the focus is less on their disease and more on meeting new friends, participating in camp activities, and gaining self-confidence and self-esteem.

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Take a moment to watch CBS video on the benefits of Camp


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“I’m able to associate with kids my own age.”

In 2015, Justino was a first-tine kidney camper with chronic kidney disease. His counselors were impressed with his outgoing personality and rapid adjustment to camp. After lunch in the camp dining hall, he was happy to explain why he liked Frost Valley so much.

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“Can I go back next year, Mom?”

That was the first thing Patrick asked when he got home from the kidney camp program at Frost Valley. Since he was seven, Patrick has been hooked up three times a week to a dialysis machine that does the work his kidneys can’t. He was never able to be too far from home until he went off to sleep-away camp. “I noticed a big change in him when he came home,” said his mother. “He seems so independent now.”

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“Frost Valley has been good for us both.”

That’s what Alisha’s mother said after her daughter’s first camp experience. Alisha was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was four years old. She never had much of a childhood; the hospital was her second home.
Dr. Rick Kaskel, Alisha’s doctor at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, is the medical director of the kidney camp program. He assured Alisha’s mother that Frost Valley offered the same, high-quality care that Alisha received at the hospital.

Alisha came home very excited about her two weeks at camp, and her mother benefitted as well. “Alisha was stronger than I gave her credit for. Her experience gave me courage and confidence, too.”

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