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Okizu

Rating: 5 stars   67 reviews 4,122

Nonprofit Issues:

Mental Health, Philanthropy, Cancer, Sports

Address:

16 Digital Drive Novato CA 94949 USA

Mission:

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the lives of both the patient and the entire family are changed forever. Children who are diagnosed with cancer miss a normal childhood. Their illness, treatment and complications can keep them from enjoying activities that are often taken for granted. And yet, like all children, they need the opportunity to grow, experiment and discover independence. Siblings, who have a higher incidence of non-adaptive and at-risk behaviors, need support to maintain self-esteem and to manage anxiety and conflicting feelings.  Parents, whose emotional and financial resources are severely strained, also need respite, encouragement and the opportunity to share information with other families who have had to make similar treatment and strategic decisions.  Those who have tragically lost their children to cancer greatly benefit from being able to share their experiences and remember their loved ones with others who are also coping with the death of a child.  Even long after the initial phase of treatment is concluded, young adults affected by childhood cancer also struggle to live normal lives and face their future with courage and hope.  Situated on 500 beautiful acres near Lake Oroville, Camp Okizu’s unique approach allows us to address the emotional, psychological and social needs of each family member, which are often neglected by traditional medical providers. One unique aspect of camp is grouping children together in all stages of treatment and recovery.  By doing this, and not limiting the amount of summers a child can attend, we are able to provide a built-in peer support network that allows newly diagnosed campers to interact with other campers, similar in age and interest, who have already been through what they’re currently forced to experience. Campers provide hope and encouragement to each other, simply by sharing a meal or a canoe ride together.  As one camper so aptly put it, “Camp Okizu is my gas station.  It fills me up and helps me get through the year.” Tragically, 1,500 children in California are diagnosed with cancer every year. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of cancer in children is expected to continue to increase, between 1-4% a year. On a positive side, survival rates have increased dramatically during this same time period so that 70% of the children will survive. This combination of factors translates to a high demand for the services we provide to families affected by pediatric cancers.

Geographic areas served:

Northern California

Programs:

The Okizu Foundation provides free camp programs for any child or family in northern California and Nevada that is affected by pediatric cancer. Recognizing that childhood cancer affects the entire family, we provide programs for siblings, young adults, parents and families as a whole. Our camp programs include:

  • Oncology Camp: A one-week camp for 6-17 year olds who have or have had cancer. Offered three times each summer, Oncology Camp provides children with cancer a chance to be a part of a close-knit group of friends and enjoy the challenges and excitement of outdoor activities, which are not normally a part of a sick child's daily life. Seeing other children who are bald or missing a limb and yet are still able to run, laugh and play can make a real difference in a child's ability to cope with cancer. This support is invaluable to a child's overall recovery from cancer and the often-rigorous treatments that must be endured.
  • SIBS (Special and Important Brothers and Sisters) Camp: Also a one-week summer camp for children 6-17 years old, SIBS Camp is one of the few places in the country where siblings receive emotional and psychological support to deal with their own unique set of challenges, including feelings of guilt, resentment, fear, confusion, and anger, which can be exacerbated by additional responsibilities placed on them and by the lack of time and support parents are able to provide.
  • Family Camp Weekends: Provided six times a year, Family Camp is an experience designed to give families a few days of fun, play and relaxation, and to gain strength and support through discussions with other families who also struggle with the affects of pediatric cancer.
  • Bereavement Camp Weekends: Provided twice a year, Bereavement Camp began when a group of families suggested we hold a camp especially for those suffering from the loss of a child due to cancer. The Bereaved Family Camp Weekends give families the opportunity to speak more freely about their experiences and bond with others who are also coping with the death of a child.
  • Teens-n-Twenties (TNT) Program: Provided three weekends a year for young adults 18-25 years of age, TNT serves many of our prior campers, who had literally outgrown our camp programs but still felt a strong need to come together. These weekends provide the teenagers and young adults with an ongoing opportunity to strengthen their friendships and give and receive support from their peers.
Each year, Camp Okizu serves more than 1,500 children and families from 38 California counties and Nevada. Due to the enormous financial burden of cancer treatment, the Okizu Foundation does not charge families a fee to attend or send their children to camp. Our corps of more than 500 trained volunteer counselors help to ensure that camp participants receive both the medical and emotional support they need, and that we are able to maintain a maximum 3 to 1 camper to staff ratio at all times.

2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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More Info

415.382.9083
http://www.okizu.org

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Reviews for Okizu

Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered as a counselor for Camp Okizu two summers in a row. It is an incredible, life-changing, and inspirational organization. Through volunteering with Camp Okizu, I have met some of the best people I have ever known - people who truly care about making a positive difference in the lives of children and teens coping with cancer. It is wonderful to see the campers simply being kids and having fun (and camp truly is, the MOST FUN place I have ever been). There were moments at camp when I'd pause and think, "This is the best day of my life," so needless to say, each day at camp was a "best day." I cannot express enough how much this organization means to me. I am forever grateful to have served the campers so that they too think, "This is the best day of my life," each day of camp.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a SIBS camper at Okizu. This year was my tenth year as a camper. Okizu is an amazing place where no one judges you, you can be yourself, you feel special and important, and everyone there can relate. Okizu to me is my second home ,my peace, my happiness, my world. If i could go anywhere in the world i would go to Okizu; not Paris, not Rome, not anywhere else. Okizu is beautiful, you are surrounded by nature, caring people, and excitement. I LOVE OKIZU!!!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make it a school. Imagine learning like you do in a classroom but surrounded by fun, happiness, nature, etc. But that's just an unrealistic dream. Other than unrealistic dreams Okizu is perfect!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Okizu is a beautiful place for those of us families dealing with childhood cancers. Both of my daughters have used the summer camps (sibs and oncology) and we have been to the family camps for 5 years. This place is perfectly run and they never stray from their mission. Beautiful organization with impeccable taste and caring souls.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Offer more opportunities per year.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Okizu has made such a profound impact on my life. I have been a SIBS camper for six years and a 'bereaved' camper for two of those years. The wonderful, empathetic, loving, huge-hearted, down-to-earth humans who make Okizu happen have helped me relax, heal, understand my family's situation, and feel less alone. Okizu provides a wonderful place AT ABSOLUTLEY NO COST for kids and families affected by childhood cancer when they most desperately need it. While Okizu is surrounded by beautiful nature, it is also clean, comfortable, and handicap accessible. It is the perfect escape. Okizu is so very close to my heart and the hearts of many, many others.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help them build more cabins/buildings as needed to accommodate more families; get the word out more so nobody eligible misses out on this amazing life opportunity.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I can still remember that first day I got on that bus. I was 6 years old and had no idea that Okizu would have such a impact on my life. 27 years later Okizu is still one of the best memories of my life. It's the one place where people like me can be normal or feel normal. A safe place to talk about our scars or the fact we have no hair. A place to make lasting friendships that I still have today. Okizu made my cancer ok. Gave me strength, wisdom, and humbled my soul. I am so thankful I got to spend my summers there. I take those memories with me always . If I haven't said this before I'll say it now! Thank you Mr. john Bell and family I love you all dearly

Jenny Clement-Mansfield

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2004

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

As the mother of a Leukemia patient and survivor, I have seen first had what an amazing place Camp Okizu is. We have had the pleasure of attending family camp with other wonderful families that have travelled down similar roads and common journeys. It is really important to have the time to meet other families who have or are currently going through similar situations. My daughter will be going to her last year of oncology camp this year and she is really looking forward to attending. After this year, she hopes to be a counselor to help other kids that are fighting their own battles. Thank You Okizu!!!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
Flag review
Rating: 5 stars  

As a volunteer, I saw the good Camp Okizu does for the kids as well as for their parents (siblings too). The children were simply having a wonderful time having fun and being treated as children and not patients. Hard to imagine it could get any better. I've also seen many of the letters and videos the children have produced in support of the Camp -- and they love it!,

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
Flag review
Rating: 5 stars  

Camp Okizu is amazing. We have gone to the family camp and it just is nice to have people who understand what childhood cancer dose to a family. The Oncology and Sibs camp not only gave my girls a break from cancer but I think it has changed their life. What they learn and the healing that takes place at camp just can't happen anyplace else for some of these kids. Their is no words to describe how thankful I am for this place.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

This is the best experience that my kids have ever had! My four children had lost their sibling from cancer and this camp allowed my kids to connect with other kids with siblings who have lost their sibling or have had siblings who had gone through cancer. This camp allowed my children to have a week of pure fun but to also talk about their feelings and experiences while they suffered their loss. The staff are all so nice! After they get home from camp, I know that they have made life long friends and they already look forward to the following year. I am so thankful for Camp Okizu and appreciate all they have done and given to my children!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Our first trip to Okizu was in May for Family Camp...it was the first time since our Daughter's diagnosis of leukemia last year that she was able to really experience being a "normal" kid again. Her brother seemed to laugh more than I've seen in a long time. Who would have thought that someone who mainly was in a wheelchair to get around would be zip-lining?! Absolutely incredible Organization and Volunteers! We'll be back.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Nothing!!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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