Camp Dreamcatcher

Camp Dreamcatcher

Camp Dreamcatcher
Camp Dreamcatcher
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Camp Dreamcatcher in the News

Making a Difference in Children's Lives
Anyone who has ever visited one of Camp Dreamcatcher’s camp weeks knows to expect the unexpected.

Last Thursday afternoon was sunny and muggy—a typical late-August day that is meant for children to be outside playing.

And the sprawling grounds at Camp Saginaw in Oxford certainly offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun—there are go-karts, a basketball court, a zip-line, and a pool, to name just a few of them.

But the camp, despite the presence of hundreds of energetic people, had fallen oddly silent in the middle of the afternoon. Instead of being outside enjoying those aforementioned activities, more than two dozen youngsters were gathered into the camp’s health center to receive an eye exam. The kids were excited—bouncing-off-the-walls excited—as they waited for Dr. Michael Miller to administer the eye exams.

You wouldn’t expect children at a summer camp to get an eye exam, but Camp Dreamcatcher is no ordinary camp. For the last 24 years, the Kennett Square-based organization has been a positive force in the lives of youngsters who have been impacted by HIV or AIDS through a variety of year-round therapeutic and educational programs.

Read more:
Making a Difference in Children's Lives
Category: Children with Illnesses, Children's Programs,Family, Community & Civic Organizations
Patty Hillkirk had a dream in 1995 to start a camp for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. While there were other camps for disadvantaged kids, and those with serious illnesses, the camp was envisioned as more than just an outdoor, fun experience. As a psychotherapist, Patty felt it was also important for the kids to have a special place that was safe, supportive and nurturing, a place to express their feelings of fear, sadness and anger with adults who understand and with children who may share their burdens.

During one week in August, children ages 5 -17 attend Camp Dreamcatcher. The children coming to camp may be coping with the HIV/AIDS infection of a family member, the death of one or both parents, or their own HIV/AIDS infection. The purpose of Camp Dreamcatcher is to provide children whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS with a chance to get away from home for a week and have fun!

The children enjoy swimming, basketball, campfires, hiking, boating, arts/crafts, a carnival, scavenger hunts, horeseback riding, an adventure challenge course, go-kart racing, miniature golfing and the much anticipated dance and Talent Show!! The camp also offers the children a chance to express their feelings in a safe therapeutic environment. Professionals in the fields of psychotherapy, music/art therapy, yoga and massage facilitate individual and group experiences for the children. In all, over 260 counselors, medical staff and other professionals volunteer their expertise to make the camp an unforgettable experience for the children.

There is no charge for any of the services offered by Camp Dreamcatcher. All funds are raised from foundations, the United Way of Southern Chester County, corporations, individuals and fundraising events.

In 1999, we expanded our programs to meet the growing needs of the children we serve and Camp Dreamcatcher now offers the following programs throughout the year:
  • a one-week therapeutic and educational Camp Session for 130 HIV/AIDS infected and/or affected children.
  • a weekend Teen Leadership Retreat
  • a weekend Teen Life Skills Retreat
  • a weekend “Catching the Dream” young adult retreat
  • a Teen Speaker’s Bureau
  • HIV/AIDS education, training and communities outreach
  • Reunion events for campers and their families
  • Adopt-A-Family Program during the Holidays.
  • Family Advocacy and support services
  • Mentoring Program
"A wonderful cause and a place very close to my heart"
- Jenn B., Facebook