History of Camp Simba

When a devastating illness such as cancer strikes, the patient is not the only one affected. Overnight, a previously normal family life is disrupted and a stable world is shaken with the imminent prospect of losing a loved one forever.
Growing up with a parent who has cancer can be a difficult and challenging experience for a child. At an age where other children's concerns revolve around school, homework and video games, the child of a cancer patient has to cope with sickness, death and the loss of a loved one - issues that even adults have difficulty coming to terms with.

In such an environment, kids are often left to deal with these personal tragedies on their own, and if parents themselves are struggling to cope with illness, their sons and daughters frequently miss out on the simple joys of childhood. In particular, for children of patients who are being taken care of at home under the Home Care program, the disease is very personal and close to their lives; they are affected day in and day out and they may be unable to behave as normal children do at home because mummy or daddy is sick.

We are planning a fun-filled camp that will allow children of cancer patients to laugh, play and have fun in a safe environment and make friends with other children who can empathize with their experiences. This would give the children an opportunity to just be kids, and to learn that it's OK to be happy even if a parent is sick. We also wish to create a safe and positive environment for them to express themselves, and we hope that this camp would help to build their self-esteem and help them to cope with life. In addition, by helping to take care of their children for a weekend, we hope to give the parents some time alone, and give the care-taker some respite.

This project is modelled after the extremely successful Camp Kesem in the US, and the need in Singapore for a similar program was brought to our attention three years ago when some of our medical students from Duke-NUS made visits to the homes of the HCA Home Care patients (terminally ill patients being cared for at home and visited regularly by a nurse from HCA) over their Palliative Care Course. After five very successful camps we anticipate Camp Simba 2014 will be better than ever!