Our mission at BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation is to provide a year-round base of support for children and families who are facing the day-to-day challenge of living with cancer and other life-threatening hematological illnesses.
We’ve served Central Florida children and families since 1982. Our goal at BASE Camp is to be a consistent presence that families can rely on. We support our families long-term throughout their journey—giving you the strength you need to complete the climb.
What Does BASE Camp Mean?
- We Believe Every Child Deserves a Childhood.
- We Achieve the Impossible Every Day.
- We Support Patients & Families.
- We Educate So That You Can Help Us.
We’re BASE Camp: Your Support Base for Children’s Cancer.
Like the base encampments that are built as climbers ascend mountains, our programs offer a place to stop along the journey for rest, nourishment, encouragement, and strength to finish the climb.
Cancer, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, and other rare/orphan hematological diseases can be such mountains in children’s lives. BASE Camp serves as the support “base” where patients and their families can turn to for help and support on their journey.
Who We Serve & Issues We Face
Our primary members are children, their ages ranging from infants to 19-years-old. We know that cancer affects entire families, not just our patients. Because of that, we serve not only children who are ill with cancer or other hematological diseases, but their siblings, too. BASE Camp also offers support to children of parents who have cancer or other hematological diseases.
Children Facing Cancer & Their Siblings
We believe it’s important to not let children be defined by their illness. That’s why at BASE Camp, every child gets to simply be a normal child, with other children just like them. We provide a peer group where their struggles and experiences are not only understood, but shared.
It’s incredible to see the friendships that take shape at our BASE Camp events between our young members, and we believe it’s one of the most important aspects of what we do.
To that end, we include our child patients in our programs even after their treatment has ended. This extends to their siblings, whom we welcome and encourage to join all our BASE Camp activities.
When a child is diagnosed, their siblings often feel anxiety or fear that they too may become ill. Siblings sometimes feel guilty, because they can still participate in their favorite sports and activities.
Other times, siblings can express jealousy because the “sick child” is receiving more of Mom or Dad’s time and attention. Often, the “well child” is overwhelmed trying to cope with the serious illness of a sibling.
Our goal is to help the patient to heal, and to help and support the siblings in their pain and suffering also.
BASE Camp understands these issues and provides a monthly program where siblings along with the patient enjoy activities together. Our activities allow the sibling to accompany the patient; if the patient is not able to attend the activity, the sibling is still encouraged to attend.
We presently serve over 300 children currently on treatment and their siblings. Our numbers are expected to increase annually, both due to our increased reach in the community, and due to the sadly increasing number of children being diagnosed every year.
Children Whose Parents Have Cancer
BASE Camp now offers the only programs available for children whose parents have cancer, giving them the opportunity to join others who understand what it’s like to have the mountain of cancer in their lives.
Children face tremendous challenges when a parent is diagnosed with cancer, and are often more perceptive than parents realize. When Mom or Dad is suddenly hospitalized, bed-ridden, or otherwise unable to perform their normal tasks, children understand right away that something serious has happened. That realization can be frightening, or confusing.
There are “support groups” for adults. BASE Camp outings are a “support group for kids.”
We give children an opportunity to spend time with others that share their “journey.” Having the chance to talk to another child that is going through the same experience, or has gone through it and come out the other side, gives children confidence that they are not alone, and that they can get through this challenging time.
We encourage children to support each other and offer one another the encouragement that they alone can provide. Believe us when we say it is amazing to see the relationships that have developed from these monthly outings.
We expect the number of children joining BASE Camp whose parents have cancer to surpass the members with a child patient, simply because there are more parents than children who have cancer.
Parents of Children with Cancer
These devastating illnesses affect the entire family, not just the patient. For parents, the mountain of cancer can be overwhelming to face alone with their child. Part of our mission is to be a consistent source of support for parents, who may find themselves frightened, confused, or angry.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, nothing else matters. One parent expressed it as feeling as if “the floor had caved in.” Suddenly and without warning, parents are thrown into a world of doctors, diagnoses, and medical procedures. Oftentimes this happens in a matter of days, not giving the parents a chance to catch their breath.
BASE Camp understands that parents need information, as well as support groups where they can talk with other parents that understand their journey and the illnesses their children face. We believe parents need a “shoulder to cry on,” too—a place where they can talk to others that empathize with what they are going through.
Connecting with another family that has survived their illness is a tremendous encouragement; finding another family to lend support surpasses cultural differences. These relationships help the family to “keep moving forward,” giving them much needed positive energy to complete the journey.
Financial Aid for Families
Adding to the stress of having a child with a life-threatening illness, families face a tremendous financial burden. Chemotherapy treatments for a child with cancer can last up to 36 months or more. Some treatments for hematology illnesses can be life-long.
Many times, one parent has to stop working while their child is on treatment. The financial challenges are even more difficult when the child is raised by a single parent.
BASE Camp programs provide financial support for families at this critical time. We help families pay bills. It is our goal to provide real and meaningful “patient aid” to any family who needs it, so that they can stop worrying about bills and focus on getting well.
Our primary members are children, their ages ranging from infants to 19-years-old. We know that cancer affects entire families, not just our patients. Because of that, we serve not only children who are ill with cancer or other hematological diseases, but their siblings, too. BASE Camp also offers support to children of parents who have cancer or other hematological diseases. Learn more about how we support our members here.
Meet The Team
Currently, BASE Camp has only 3 paid staff members, including our founder and president of over 35 years. Get to know them, as well as our dedicated volunteer staff, here.
We are grateful to our BASE Camp Board of Directors who help ensure that we are able to live out our mission statement, so that we can support patients and families. Learn more about them here.
We’ve been humbled by the contributions of many sponsors for our BASE Camp events and are happy to call them our Community Partners. You can meet them here.
Finally, BASE Camp couldn’t keep running smoothly without the contribution of our many hardworking volunteers. If you are interested in becoming one of them, please visit here.
“I realized early on that I couldn’t change the fact that children got cancer, but I could help them along the journey.”
– Terri Jones, Founder of BASE Camp
In 1982, BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation was established in Orlando, Florida. Unlike many cancer foundations, we focus on providing a year-round series of programs to help children and families along the journey of cancer and other life-threatening hematological illnesses.
Over the years, our services have expanded to offer more than 23 such programs, including “Second Wishes,” “Christmas in July,” “Milestone Parties,” and many more.
Learn more about our services and programs here.