Summer… the best time of the year! Children are elated that school is out for the summer. Choosing summer activities for your child can be a challenge. What camps should they sign up for? Are their friends going to the same camp? The list goes on. However, there is one thing that plays in the back of your mind that a lot of parents don’t have to deal with on a regular basis. Your child has a chronic skin condition. They have never been comfortable going to a camp because they are worried that they won’t fit in; until your dermatologist told you about a camp that was a game changer. Camp Discovery.

Camp Discovery is a camp for children aged 8-16 who have a chronic skin condition. Every summer The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) sponsors 6 weeks of camp in five locations where everyone can experience activities such as swimming, archery, horseback riding, nature trails, and team bonding!

The Game Changer

The campers are supervised by some of the best dermatologists and nurses around the country to give these campers the opportunity to spend time with other children with similar skin conditions. Some of the counselors have chronic skin conditions as well, to give a supportive and safe environment to the campers. There is NO COST for the families who send their children to the camp, the money is donated by the AAD as well as other members and other organizations. To attend the camp, you first have to have your dermatologist refer your child to the Academy for admission.

Looking back at some of my summer experiences, I believe that Camp Discovery would be an experience close to the heart. I live with generalized vitiligo. At the age of 15, I was a camp counselor at one of the camps to hopefully connect with the campers as well as help them accept their conditions. Some of the campers were more accepting than others, and others just needed that week to come out of their shell and blossom. But what surprised me the most was how some campers still felt uncomfortable in an environment that was judgement free. I worked with a camper who had a hard time accepting her skin condition. Each day she and I had little “therapy sessions” to help build her confidence. By the end of the week she didn’t want to leave because she had made so many friends.

Camp Discovery unites kids from around the world. As one of the campers told me, “I don’t have to explain myself when I am here, because when I am here, I am home.”