Organizing this year’s Camp Hope did not come without difficulty.
Patty Stuever has been involved with the weeklong camp for children with cancer for 14 years. As the activities director, Stuever had to organize a new location for this year’s camp, which started Sunday and runs through Saturday near Great Bend.
“There was a fire at the spot we had been having Camp Hope for the last 30 years,” Stuever said of Camp Aldrich, the original location.
Stuever worked with Barton Community College to bring this week’s camp to Barton’s campus.
In addition, the American Cancer Society, which used to provide funds for the camp, is no longer sponsoring this year’s event, said Barb Keltner, a volunteer and newsletter editor for Camp Hope. At a loss for funds, Stuever organized fundraisers, including one at the Doo-Dah Diner in April, a week after the fire at Camp Aldrich.
“She’s had double the work it seems like,” Keltner said, “but she’s always positive.”
In the two months since the fire, Stuever rescheduled the camp’s activities to work with the community college, including face painting, crafts, kickball, human hamster balls, Guitar Hero and bowling.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in Great Bend will stock a fishing pond with catfish, Stuever said. Then Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will fry the day’s catch for a fish dinner.
“It’s probably the best week of the year,” Stuever said. “The kids, some of them, have been pretty sick and getting to watch them have fun … and letting them be kids. They’re so resilient.”