Okizu

Rating: 5 stars   67 reviews

Issues: Mental Health, Philanthropy, Cancer, Sports

Location: 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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EIN 68-0291178
415.382.9083
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I was a camper and a counselor for Okizu.... When my brother passed away while I was at SIBS camp, I had the most amazing support EVER!
I was then able to return that love and support as a counselor....
Camp Okizu rocks socks and I would, to this day, recommend it to families going through the battle....

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?

1997

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Our family has been a part of the Okizu family since 2008. Our son was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2007 as a baby, and our daughter has been going to sibling camp ever since. I can't even begin to say what this place has done for her. Amazing. Love this camp!

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

NA

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

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

We went to family camp for the first time in May, and it was such a positive experience that our 7 year old is going back in July for oncology camp! And this after thinking "well, maybe next year, after chemo ends." Everything about the place is healing and loving. The thought that we have Okizu in our lives is so comforting; what a precious place of grace and fellowship. Standout moments: nature hike with Dr. Mike to the farthest western boundary, zip lining, talking with other families around cereal and archery, and feeling like a healthy family in nature again.

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

Nametags-i have a hard time with new names.

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

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

After our daughter's cancer diagnosis this past fall numerous medical personnel suggested we look into Camp Okizu. We attended our first family camp and knew instantly that this was a place of healing and support. I cannot express adequately how much I appreciate knowing that Camp Okizu is available to our family.

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

suggest a corporation like Whole Foods partner with 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

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

My niece and nephews attended camp this summer. Their little brother has been battling cancer for the past year. It was so wonderful for them to have a happy place to go, where the focus is 100% on them. There have been challenges this year with finances due to Dad having to take time off work to help with hospital coverage. We are most grateful for this wonderful organization that makes it all possible and not a burden on the pocketbook.

Thank you Camp Okizu for everything. Thank you.

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

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have attended this camp for 10 years. I was a camper for 7 years and now I've been a counselor to help change the life of the kids who attend. Camp always made me feel normal as a child. It's a horrible thing to have to see your family go through the experiences of childhood cancer. What I loved about this camp was I reassured you that you weren't alone. I was amazed when I first realized how many children have cancer. And when I attended sibs camp I was able to talk to other children who were in a similar situation like mine. I look forward to camp so much, that has always been my favorite part of my summer. The staff here are amazing and are so caring. I wouldn't be the same person I am today without this amazing place!!

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?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

This is an amazing place and organization! My son attended camp for 14 years and then became a counselor. It helped save his life!!!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unsure

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

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I was a camper & counseler for okizu . I used to be so shy and embarrassed about having cancer till I came here, met my best friend here and we are still besties over 20 years later. I've learned so much and gained a ton of confidence from camp Okizu. It definitly has changed my life ❤️

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?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Just amazing! Happiest place on earth for campers and staff.

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

Perfection! Come check it out!

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

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have been both a camper and a counselor at Oncology camp and a counselor at Family and SIBS camps. Okizu has made a tremendous impact on my life. As a teenager on chemo with no hair and scars most other teen girls don't have, it's hard to find a place to fit in and be comfortable in your own skin, but Okizu was able to provide that place for me. I was diagnosed with leukemia in 1990 at age 13. I attended camp for the first time the following summer. I am now a registered nurse, wife, and mother of three beautiful children. When they're older I am definitely gong back to camp. It is truly the best place in the world for families dealing with childhood cancers.

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?

1999

Was this review helpful?