Kids climbing the rock wall at Morgan’s Wonderland Camp in San Antonio, Texas, this June had knee braces, carefully applied kinesiology tape, forearm crutches, and other adaptive tools. Some of them used wheelchairs.
They all live with chronic pain of some sort, and at the 2023 Pediatric Pain Warrior Family Summer Camp, these pain warriors were around people who understood and could relate—sometimes for the first time.
During the last week of June, U.S. Pain Foundation’s Pediatric Pain Warrior program hosted its second annual summer camp. Children living with pain, along with their families, were invited to Morgan’s Wonderland Camp in Texas, a fully accessible summer camp for kids with various medical conditions and needs.
“You really have to experience camp for yourself to see how special and impactful it is,” says Casey Cashman, U.S. Pain Foundation’s Director of Fundraising and the Pediatric Pain Warrior Program. “Kids are participating in activities they’ve never been able to do before. They’re having serious conversations with other kids who understand exactly what they’re going through. They’re not being judged or misunderstood when they need to take a break or sit something out.
“What’s more,” Cashman adds, “their parents and siblings—the people who take care of them every day, who fight for them—are able to come to camp and meet other families who have lived through the same experiences.”
During their week in San Antonio, campers rode horses, completed a challenge course, climbed a rock wall, learned about wildlife, went swimming, completed archery challenges, and much more, in an environment that responded to their individual needs and made every activity accessible to them.
U.S. Pain Foundation hosted daily support group meetings at camp for pain warriors, their siblings, and their parents, allowing them to connect at a deeper level, share their experiences and frustrations, and offer advice.
Several educational and activity programs were offered throughout the week as well. Children painted the Morgan’s Wonderland butterfly with artist Cindy Cashman and learned about pacing and setting boundaries to limit pain with Karli Kibby, PT, DPT, TPS, a physical therapist with Texas Children’s. Parents heard about new and upcoming pain treatments from pediatric pain specialist Henry Huang, MD, with Texas Children’s, as well as learning about how to advocate for their child from Coalition for Access Now founder Paige Figi.
A joint session for children and parents introduced them to Morgan’s Wonderland’s STRAPS program, which offers adaptive and Paralympic-style sports opportunities to individuals with disabilities. After speaking to campers and their families, the athletes invited campers to try out sports wheelchairs and join them in games of basketball and pickleball.
The summer camp was offered at no cost to families with the support of sponsors who helped defray the costs of the camp itself, covered travel scholarships, and donated hundreds of free products in a wide variety of pain-management categories that families were able to use and take home.
“This camp would not have been possible without our incredible sponsors,” Cashman says. “Whether through funding assistance or in-kind donations of products that we passed on to families, each and every sponsor helped make this week a reality.”
This was the second year U.S. Pain Foundation hosted the pediatric camp. Check out a video from last year’s camp here and a slideshow of this year’s fun below.
“When kids live with pain, every day is about managing that pain,” Cashman says. “Kids and their families navigate doctor appointments, treatments, school challenges, and more. In many cases, managing chronic pain takes over their lives. That’s what makes this camp so special. For one week, in an environment carefully tailored to understand, assist, and honor children with pain, they simply get to be kids.”
Watch a Slideshow of Camp!
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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.
U.S. Pain Foundation relies on the generosity of donations and grants. We are especially thankful to our Corporate Council for sustaining our programs and services year-round. Learn more.