Jackie Gorski, Lifestyles Editor - Times Union
NORTH WEBSTER – Campers at Camp Crosley like 7-year-old Emmett Flora and 11-year-old Elias Flora of Indianapolis are still going to “camp” this year, but doing so virtually.
It was decided in early April that the camp would not meet in-person, and two weeks later it was decided to make everything virtual. The first day of virtual camp was Monday, said Jen Maahs, nurse practitioner at Indiana Hemophilia Thrombosis Center. “It was a hard decision,” she said. If someone got sick or spiked a fever, they would have had to send everyone home.
To make the camp virtual, the camp is using Zoom sessions and grouping the campers into different groups on calls: 7- to 9-year-olds, 10- to 12-year-olds and 13- to 16-year-olds.
During the Zoom sessions, campers tell stories and submit pictures, Maahs said. Different people are getting on the Zoom calls, such as the doctors the campers would see in person if the camp met in North Webster.
Camp Crosley brings in kids from all across the state who suffer from bleeding disorders, offering busing from Indianapolis to kids who live farther away in the state, said Maahs.
The week-long outdoor adventure camp gives kids a chance to play, create and learn alongside their peers while continuing to make memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
“Along the way, interactive lessons on healthy living encourage them to put what they’ve learned about their blood disorders into practice and share their experiences with other children who are going through the same health challenges,” stated a news release from Communications Redefined.
During the camp session, Indiana Hemophilia Thrombosis Center provides medical staff in order to look out for the medical needs for the campers, stated the release.
“It’s not quite the same as being at camp,” Maahs said.
“Everybody was really bummed,” Vanessa Flora, mother of Emmett and Elias, said about learning the camp would go virtual this year. Being at camp was the highlight of the summer.
Elias started attending Camp Brave Eagle at Camp Crosley in North Webster several years ago. Camp Brave Eagle is hosted by the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center and Hemophilia of Indiana, welcoming nearly 150 kids with bleeding disorders and their siblings each year.
This would have been Elias’ fifth year at the camp and Emmett’s first year, said Vanessa.
Vanessa said she learned about Camp Crosley from a few different organizations, such as her chapter of Hemophilia of Indiana, but she was actively seeking out camps like Camp Crosley.
It was important that they go to a regular camp, but also have their medical needs met as both were tested with hemophilia at birth, Vanessa said. She was an unknown carrier and the disease runs in her family.
Maahs said the campers were sent a “campbox,” which included a camp shirt and things to do activities with, such as making s’mores. An activity book is included, as well, which is a guide for the parents. Every day the campers have a challenge, such as making s’mores, and campers take photos of them doing the activity.
Due to their hemophilia, Vanessa said Emmett and Elias would not be able to go to a regular camp since the camp would have to administer her sons’ medicine and there’s a lot of cleanliness that goes into that. “That would be a very difficult accommodation,” she said. “This is their only shot.”
Vanessa said her sons learn a lot of independence from the camp. The big thing for them is learning to administer their own medicine, which has to be administerd through an IV-type device. Emmett has some anxiety about that. Vanessa said she is kind of bummed that Emmett is sort of delayed by a year in those types of aspects.
During camp, Vanessa said her sons will also learn about their disease.
“There’s this whole growth about learning about this condition,” Vanessa said.
Elias said since going to the camp in years past, he has become more confident about advocacy and talking about his disease.
Vanessa said she will be definitely sending Elias and Emmett to Camp Crosley next year if they’re open and her daughter will go when she’s old enough.