By Jacob Walters
Camp Head Strong, the summer camp for children and teens living with hydrocephalus, will be going virtual for the first time ever! While the experience will be different in an online environment, the mission remains the same — to help campers form friendships, become responsible leaders, and develop independence and self-reliance.
Camp Head Strong was developed by Brainy Camps of Children’s National in conjunction with the Hydrocephalus Association. While Brainy Camps are normally in-person sleepaway camps, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic they will be virtual. A major advantage of going virtual is that Camp Head Strong will be accessible to more people and less expensive at only $200.
The registration fee covers costs of activity supplies shipped to campers before the start of the week, camp tee shirts, and internet connections for campers if needed. Brainy Camps also offers scholarships and refunds for families who cannot cover the registration cost. Below are dates and a schedule of a typical day at virtual camp.
Camp Headstrong Dates: July 27-30
10:00 AM: Morning Meet- Up
10:30 AM: First Activity
12:30 PM: Bunk Brunch– Cabin/Chat Room; Support Groups
2:00 PM: Second Activity
7:00 PM: Evening Activity
Campers can choose from a variety of activities including yoga, sports trivia and challenges, magic, crafts, and more! In between these activities, campers will eat lunch and play games with their virtual bunk to encourage connections. They will also have the chance to talk about their worries, fears, and reflections in support groups. Educational sessions led by medical experts will be offered to teach campers about their conditions. Every day will end with a camp-wide activity like a talent show, “campfire”, or dance party!
This will be my fourth summer as a Brainy Camps and Head Strong counselor. I still have a vivid memory of my first day. We played a camper-counselor kickball game to kick off the week. It was a typical sleepaway camp atmosphere with shining sun and hyper-enthusiastic counselors. But what I remember most is three campers out in left-field bonding over brain surgeries and headaches. That is when I realized Camp Head Strong was a special place. It is a place where kids can talk openly about hydrocephalus. It is a place where no one is afraid to show off their scars. A place where everyone “just gets it”.
So while there won’t be any kickball this summer, I know that camp will still be the same special place. Now more than ever, kids need to feel part of this #HydroStrong community and I can’t wait to be a part of it again!