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Trees of Hope: Kids with Arthritis Leave Camp Cambria Empowered

Baihly Warfield
Updated: December 13, 2019 08:53 PM

Living with arthritis means there are painful moments. But there's one place in Minnesota where having arthritis is a VIP pass to fun. 

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It's called Camp Cambria. From the outside, it could be any summer camp. They sing silly songs, eat pizza for lunch and have arts and crafts time. 

This past July, dozens of kids spent time there, getting to know others with juvenile arthritis and learning more about their own condition. 

Cassidy Remington-Willis went to Camp Cambria for the first time. She said her favorite activities were aqua zumba and the sponge wars. 

"I'm friends with like everybody in my unit," she said. 

Tori Byklum, Cassidy's counselor, said the girls in her cabin were meshing well.

"Cassidy, it's her first year here, and they've really included her and come together as a cabin and worked together to do things and play games and build those connections," Byklum said. 

The connections are what make it such a special week. Having arthritis as a kid can be tough to explain. But at Camp Cambria, everyone gets it. 

"You have your friends at home who say they understand it and know what you're going through, but it's different when that person that you're talking to actually goes to doctor's appointments, has those infusions, takes those pills," Byklum explained. 

Chris Donaldson, another counselor, said because everybody has arthritis, it's like nobody has it. 

"It's like the first place where they can actually not have to think about it because it's the norm," Donaldson said. 

His hope is that kids leave Camp Cambria empowered.

"Sure, they've got something called juvenile arthritis. They've got a better understanding of it, they recognize that they're not alone, and it's not something they need to hide," he said. "My hope is they go out into what I'm going to call general public and not be as self-conscious about it." 

If you want to help the Arthritis Foundation put on events like this, you can donate to WDIO and Hom Furniture's Trees of Hope campaign here. Or call in to the phone bank during all WDIO News broadcasts on Monday, Dec. 2. 

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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