This summer, children and teens living with chronic pain reached the top of a rock wall, traversed a ropes course, rode a zip line and a giant swing, went horseback riding and swimming, and shot hoops.

They did so using wheelchairs, braces and splints, forearm crutches, feeding tubes, and other adaptive tools. Many of them were able to share in these activities with their siblings and families for the first time, rather than being unable to participate.

The 3rd annual Pediatric Pain Warrior Family Summer Camp, hosted by the U.S. Pain Foundation, was held from June 23–27 at Morgan’s Camp—an accessible camp in San Antonio, Texas.

The camp invites families from around the country — 52 of them in 2024, including more than 100 pediatric pain warriors and siblings — to experience an inclusive, adaptive environment specifically geared toward kids living with chronic pain, as well as their siblings and parents, guardians, or caregivers.

“It is so rare to find an environment like this,” says Nicole Hemmenway, U.S. Pain Foundation CEO. “Kids with pain don’t have to sit on the sidelines; those around them understand that they may need to take a break; and families can explore activities together, because care has been taken to make them adaptable.”

Throughout the week, campers undertook a variety of activities as a family. They participated in peer support sessions, individually geared toward pain warriors, their siblings, and their parents, guardians, or caregivers. They teamed up for competitive mealtime challenges, including creating towers out of marshmallows and spaghetti. They unwound with evening activities that included a carnival, family game night, and pool luau.

Educational sessions equipped children and parents with information and tools—including tips for children on vocalizing their experiences and needs to people who may not understand, and guidance on advocating for a child. Pediatric pain physician and anesthesiologist Henry Huang, MD, and rehabilitation, orthopedics, and musculoskeletal ultrasound specialist Chad Kelly, PT, DPT, DC, OCS, RMSK, both of Texas Children’s Hospital, spoke with families about pacing strategies to help manage pain. Nydia Tijerina Darby, PT, DPT, C-IAYT, of Nydia’s Yoga Therapy Studio and the Open Hand Institute, guided children and teens through a therapeutic yoga session.

Throughout the week, families built connections with others who understand and relate to their journey, often for the first time.

“This camp genuinely has been life-changing,” shares 17-year-old Aly Meder. “Everyone here gets you—even if they don’t have the same deal as you, they understand what you’re going through. It’s just an experience I’ve never had before, where they’re also going through the same thing as me, and I’m not the only one who’s missing out and feeling ostracized. It just feels like everyone belongs.”

Chronic pain impacts more than 51.6 million Americans, presenting unique challenges that often require specialized resources. Recognizing this need, the U.S. Pain Foundation’s Pediatric Pain Warrior program serves as a beacon of hope to those navigating the complexities of pediatric chronic pain — a subset of the chronic pain population that often is misunderstood, disbelieved, and underserved.

A multitude of generous sponsors, volunteers, and supporters made this camp possible, allowing U.S. Pain to continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families affected by chronic pain.

“Support for the youngest pain warriors is so limited,” says Casey Cashman, director of the U.S. Pain Foundation’s Pediatric Pain Warrior program. “That’s why this camp is so special and necessary—it is built just for them. This initiative, along with U.S. Pain’s other Pediatric Pain Warrior services and programs, seeks to bridge the gap for these children and families. The impact on families this week was poignantly evident—and we are committed to continue reaching them where they are.”


Check out more photos from camp here!


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U.S. Pain Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those who live with conditions that cause chronic pain, as well as their caregivers and care providers. Learn more.

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