c/o Ronald McDonald House Charities, KCMO
2502 Cherry St.
Kansas City, MO 64108
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City Mission: To reduce the burden of childhood illness on children and their families.
Camp ChiMer Mission: To provide an opportunity for children with chronic kidney disease to participate in a camping experience and develop peer relationships regardless of their medical needs.
Camp ChiMer was created by Dr. Brad Warady and the Nephrology Team at Children’s Mercy Hospital 28 years ago. Dr. Warady is a longtime friend, former Board Chair, and current Advisory Board Member of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City. Dr. Warady is the physician who helped pioneer the concept of the Family Room for The Charity more than 20 years ago and continues to talk with hospitals today about the importance of the Family Room program. For more than 30 years he has been treating kids with Kidney disease, who are also serviced by RMHC’s around the world.
Camp ChiMer was incorporated into RMHC-KC’s 2013- 2015 strategic plan, bringing Camp ChiMer under the umbrella of RMHC-KC’s structure of services in 2014.
Camp ChiMer is a unique summer camp to the Kansas City metropolitan area and surrounding communities offering youth battling chronic kidney disease the opportunity to “just be a kid” for a week and experience summer camp. Campers are either on dialysis or have a kidney transplant, and the extensive medical oversight needed for such conditions dictates that under ordinary circumstances they simply cannot attend typical summer camp programs. Children’s Mercy Hospital partners with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City to provide the necessary dialysis treatments, full staff of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and a host of volunteers to ensure the campers have a medically stable environment.
For the past 28 years Camp ChiMer has continued to provide the opportunity for children who are coping with kidney disease to meet other kids who are dealing with the same struggles and, for one week, enjoy the camp experience. During the week of camp, the campers participate in arts and crafts, swimming, field trips, a dance, and many other traditional summer camp activities. Previous offered classes have included ChiMer University, cooking class, acting, jewelry-making, self-defense class and juggling lessons. The camp also participates in service projects that usually include improvement of the campground in Excelsior Springs.
Camp ChiMer not only provides an opportunity for these children to enjoy traditional summer camp activities, but it also gives these special individuals the chance to develop friendships with others who are “just like them”; no questions asked about why someone is short or why someone else has a tube in their abdomen…just fun and friends. Healthcare providers and families are often concerned about the quality of life of children with kidney disease. Camp ChiMer goes a long way towards addressing this issue very successfully each and every year. It is a moving experience and a tremendous asset to the youth we serve.
Goal: The primary goal is for the children to leave Camp ChiMer with a sense of hope and a positive self-esteem, recognizing that they are not alone in their daily challenges related to their medical condition.
Campers are changed in positive ways through their camp experience. It is here that campers are surrounded by a positive environment, staff and peers. Structured activities provide personal development and free-time activities utilized to help reduce the burden of childhood illness. 2012 Camp ChiMer online surveys were distributed for the purpose of collecting the camper’s perspective regarding camp performance and the level of satisfaction with camp activities. Of the 53 surveys circulated, nine responses were collected. Although the feedback was limited, the information provided is both helpful and informative. 1oo% enjoyed their experience and indicated they intend to return the following year. The surveys, as well as information garnered from our social media sites, indicate that Camp ChiMer provided campers the opportunity to participate in a fun camping experience and develop peer relationships regardless of their medical needs. RMHC-KC intends to continue to collect camper satisfaction information (on-site, electronically and via U.S. mail) in the future.