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Camp Liberté – Summer camp for children with skin disorders

Dr. Danielle Marcoux
Canada

 

Camp Liberté in 2019: Growth & Strategic Focus

 

In the four years since the receipt of the 2015 L’Oréal prize, the Camp has grown significantly. Adding a new site in Western Canada, the camp is now equipped to host up to 40 campers from across Canada. Revenue has increased significantly thanks to donations from organizations as well as gifts from dermatologists and other individuals.

 

Camp Liberté is supported by a committed Board of Directors and a staff with expertise in governance, fundraising, program administration and finance. In 2018, Camp Liberté undertook its first strategic planning exercise which led to the decision to further expand the Camp, with the goal of allowing more children with moderate to severe skin conditions to access to this life-changing camp experience. Camp Liberté hopes to open a third camp location within the next two years.

 

Improved Quality of Life and Self-Esteem

 

The burden of visible skin disorders is significant. Children with visible skin conditions suffer from teasing and discrimination starting at a young age that impacts their quality of life. As dermatologists, we are uniquely positioned to increase awareness of skin disorders but also to provide a supportive environment for patients to accept and live well with their skin conditions.

 

Here are just a few examples of the ways in which Camp Liberté improves quality of live and improves self-esteem.

1) The Goose Game: Players roll the dice to move around the board. On some squares, the player has to share a strategy for coping, with itch or treating their eczema for example. By sharing their stories and experiences, the children learn they are not alone and gain insights into how other people think, increasing self esteem and acceptance of their condition.
2) Mindfulness sessions: Kids learn techniques to deal with stressful situations. This improves resilience and acceptance.
3) Skin care and sun protection: Individual and group teaching empowers kids with the knowledge to engage in care of their skin condition. Empowerment improves care and self confidence.
4) Parent Testimonials: Parents have noticed that children return from camp better equipped to take an active role in their own treatment, and with a new perception of their skin condition.

 

The many informal activities include sports, camp fires, and team building activities where children can discover their strengths and enjoy the support and company of their new friends.

 

We intend to obtain ethics approval to objectively assess attendee’s quality of life using the Children’s Dermatology Life Quality Index, to prove what we know already – that Camp Liberté changes kids lives for the better!

 


This one-week summer camp enlisted children aged 7–12 with moderate-to-severe skin disorders and their families – bringing them together for support, social interaction and to increase their confidence.

 

A range of physical and social activities were on offer; including swimming, canoeing, zip lining, fishing and crafts. All the activities aimed to increase patients’ confidence and self-esteem, improve social skills, reduce stigma about their condition and improve adherence to treatment.

 

Established in 2009, the weeklong camp was fully funded by donors and ran by volunteer dermatologists and nurses. Overall, 100 children – who may frequently experience discrimination and feel socially excluded – were involved.

 

The prize money was planned to be used to expand the camp into Western Canada and develop a long-term fundraising strategy to allow the program to continue into the future.

 

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