How the Rotary Youth Camp Helped a Girl Move Past Her Juvenile Arthritis

Runner touching painful knee. Athlete runner training accident. Sport running knee sprain.(Note: This story is based on an actual camper’s experience. The camper’s name has been changed.)

For most of her childhood, Julie felt the agonizing symptoms of juvenile arthritis. These included searing pain in her joints as well as stiffness, fever, and swelling. Every day was a struggle for her because the severity of her symptoms would wax and wane without warning. Sleep was elusive as well because the pain prevented her from being able to rest.

The problem was that Julie’s immune system attacked her healthy cells and her doctors didn’t know why. What they did know was that she needed to exercise when her symptoms weren’t as severe to support her physical development. However, she couldn’t play sports regularly or engage in physical activities with her peers when her symptoms flared up. This caused her to feel socially isolated, depressed, and anxious.

One day, Julie’s parents heard about a program for children with juvenile arthritis that included a camping experience at the Rotary Youth Camp. She decided to sign up for it and it changed her life forever.

At the Camp, she became friends with kids who also had arthritis and other rheumatic issues. She was no longer the only one she knew who had problems like this, and she could relate to them because of their shared experiences.

The camp had sports and swimming for when her symptoms weren’t as severe, and activities such as board games and arts and crafts when it was too painful for her to move. Julie had an amazing time at the Camp, and she made lifelong friendships as a result.

The Rotary Youth Camp exists to serve kids like Julie to give them opportunities for normal camping experiences despite their limitations. Your donations to Greater Kansas City Day ensure that the Camp can maintain its operations every year. Click the “Donate” button or buy a paper on April 10 to support the Rotary Youth Camp.