Perhaps more than any other year, Americans are making plans for their summer and beyond. For those with chronic illness or disabilities and their families, finding appropriate and supportive environments for recreation can be a challenge. Luckily, there are camps and retreats that are available specifically for people affected by various chronic conditions.
Every camp listed on the NeedyMeds site is different — serving different people based on their medical condition. Most camps are for children and young adults with a specific diagnosis, though there are also camps available for children whose parents have a specified diagnosis or for siblings or the entire family to enjoy. Most camps are funded by private or government run organizations.
Each camp has a different set of eligibility requirements, though most require a diagnosis for the child or a member of their family. Some camps are limited to certain states, while others are available to anyone who is a legal resident of the United States. There may be financial requirements for many of the camps; recreational programs listed are not necessarily free or for financially needy children and families, though some may offer financial aid. It is recommended to contact camps directly to find out what requirements they may have.
Users can search the NeedyMeds website for camps through diagnosis for medical conditions (such as cancer) as well as non-medical conditions (such as social/emotional/psychological conditions, educational issues, or bereavement). You can also search by program name, sponsoring organization, or camp location and narrow your results by utilizing the age filter, financial assistance, or American Camp Association (ACA) seal.
For students looking to continue their education, being diagnosed with or being otherwise affected by chronic illness can be equally challenging — especially with the added risks associated with COVID-19. Fortunately, there are academic scholarships available to those in need. Some cover one specific condition, while others cover whole types of diagnoses (such as all types of cancers) or even all chronic diseases. Some address the needs of those with non-medical specific challenges. Most have some type of eligibility requirements, usually financial ones. Most can be used at any school.
There are some camps and scholarships that offer programs year-round, but summer camps and academic scholarships for the fall semester often have applications due in April-May. Be sure to check individual programs for their details, including any COVID-19 related restrictions.