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Helping kids have serious fun despite the pandemic

picking up the package

May 19, 2022

As part of our Global CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Program, we partnered with SeriousFunSM Children’s Network (SeriousFun) to give children living with serious illnesses memorable camp experiences. Families share more about the life-changing impact these camp programs had on them.

 

For children, serious illnesses reach far beyond physical symptoms – they also have substantial impact on personal development. Children need to experience different things in order to reach their full potential, but many conditions can prevent them from doing so. SeriousFun— first chosen by our employees as one of our FY2019 Global CSR Program partners — offers camp experiences designed to foster independence, resilience and personal growth. These experiences help children living with serious illnesses to see beyond the limits of their medical conditions. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced SeriousFun programs around the world to reduce — and in some cases suspend — in-person activities, many children and their families were understandably disappointed.

Through our partnership, the SeriousFun team developed safe and inventive ways to connect with campers and provide fun home experiences despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic. Below we share some inspiring stories.

opening the camp in a box

Christian’s summer of fun and friendship

Christian was just four-and-a-half years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. For three difficult years, he underwent weekly chemotherapy treatments and had multiple stays in the hospital.

When Christian completed his treatment, he and his family participated in a variety of programming offered by The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, U.S., the very first SeriousFun Camp. Then in the summer of 2020 when in-person programming was paused, Christian, his brother Alex and over 500 other campers were able to experience camp fun and friendship through special alternative programs. They each received a “camp in a box,” filled with goodies such as snacks, crafts and games. These virtual activities provided hours of entertainment, and Alex was delighted when he logged on to his cartooning club to find that his counselor was his favorite author. Once restrictions were eased, Christian and his family were able to visit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for a family fun day where they safely took part in camp activities.


“For my children, camp is part of their healing from the trauma of pediatric cancer. Knowing that they are important and that there are other kids like them has changed them.”

- Christian’s mom


 

Magic makers at Flying Horse Farms

Like so many of us, the Lucas family was impacted by COVID-19. The family of five was unable to travel to visit family due to travel restrictions. But when things seemed at their worst, relief came from Flying Horse Farms, the SeriousFun camp in Ohio, U.S., in the form of a camp in a box. It provided everyone in the family with fun distractions such as magic tricks, scavenger hunts, puzzles and art. Virtual cabin chats, where campers spent time together online, were a welcome opportunity to connect with others after months of seclusion and empty schedules.


“We’re so thankful to Flying Horse Farms for these opportunities that were not isolated one-and-done remedies, but thoughtful, caring, creative streams of opportunities, beckoning us to join in and remain involved. It was in the acceptance of these invitations that transformed us from feeling alone, lost or forgotten.”

- The Lucas family


 

Alessandro’s weekend at Dynamo Camp

As Alessandro arrived at Dynamo Camp, the SeriousFun camp located in Italy, he started to display symptoms of anxiety. He didn’t want to be with others, he refused to have lunch and wanted to go home. But the skilled support team spent quality time with him and was able to calm him down. They began to slowly involve him in the activities and soon Alessandro was enjoying himself with the other children. The teams that work with SeriousFun really know how to help children connect, relax and make memories --no matter their situation.


“We were told that the experience at Dynamo Camp was going to be great, but we never thought it would be this great! For a whole weekend, we forgot our fears, fatigue, anxieties, sadness and we had fun. We laughed and relaxed — it was like a dream!”

- Alessandro’s mom