This summer may look different, but we will still have opportunities to connect at JA Camp. Our new virtual JA Camp experience brings the magic of summer camp to all campers with JA, wherever you happen to be! While we cannot replace being in person together, we are excited to give campers an alternative option for connection and fun.
The Arthritis Foundation is proud to offer free, at-home summer camp experiences across the United States for kids and teens with juvenile arthritis and related childhood rheumatic diseases. Juvenile arthritis (JA) camps are sponsored nationally by Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity and Foundation (AOII), as well as supporting partners Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and the Saal Family Fund in memory of Jessica Saul. Thanks to sponsorship and donations, virtual camp is provided at no cost to families.
Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity’s Executive Director Kaya Miller shares, “For many of our members, our support of the Arthritis Foundation Camp program is one of the most compelling aspects of our work together. Chapters and members are especially passionate about fundraising the dollars that help children and youth attend a JA summer camp. AOII understands this passion and is proud to champion this important JA initiative.”
Our Virtual JA Camps will offer a few of the programs and traditions campers are used to at in person camp – mindfulness, movement, arts and crafts, camp songs and more! Campers will interact through live video sessions, giving them the chance to see faces of familiar friends and counselors. All Virtual JA Campers will also be mailed an activity workbook. Through our camp programs, even virtually, campers gain a greater understanding of their own diagnosis and treatment, build strong peer-support networks and develop the skills they need to become effective leaders, advocates and champions in their everyday lives. A camper from our Teen Retreat in California shared, “I felt like Virtual JA Camp really helped me discover options for moving forward with college and independent doctors’ appointments with JA.”
Volunteer co-camp director Claire Peckenpaugh from Camp KODA in Utah shared, “Camp KODA has been a vital resource for our kids living with rheumatic conditions in the Intermountain West region. By moving camp to an online, virtual platform, we’ve been able to safely connect with those from all over our market, Utah, Idaho and Montana, as well Nevada and Wyoming. While online camp isn’t the same as the annual in-person camp, we are thrilled to have kids and young adults connect with one another to discuss challenging topics such as: advocacy, living with chronic conditions and mental health. Thanks to the help of our volunteers and medical staff from Primary Children’s Hospital, we’ve had the opportunity to host 59 kids at our virtual camp this year! The fundraising efforts of both the National and Local Arthritis Foundation chapters have given us this opportunity to provide a safe environment for our kids living with chronic illness to come together and realize there are other kids out there just like them. As we’ve told the kids time and time again, we are stronger together as a community.”
Visit our camp website to register for an Arthritis Foundation Virtual JA camp today. We hope to connect with you online!