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 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  

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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

My mother has been greatly involved with Camp Okizu since it has opened. I visited a few times as a child but never really was able to fully understand the beauty and magic of camp. Neither my brothers nor I have gone through childhood cancer, but I still know people, children and adults affected. This summer I decided to finally volunteer (much overdue) and little did I know how grateful I would be at the end of my first volunteer week. Being a counselor has given me a new outlook not only on my own life, but on the lives of those around me. What a wonderful, wonderful family Okizu is.

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?

A lot

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  

When I first came to Okizu, it was with the idea that I would give week to volunteer, because it was the right thing to do. But after only a few hours my life was transformed. The spirit that drives this organization leaves a physical mark, and begins a literal transformation on all those who participate.
Under the Leadersip of Suzie Randall, volunteers and campers alike are given the gift of a week of pure joy. The campers lives become our life force during camp, and we grow through their strength.
The laughter, tears, jokes, friendships and love are so pure, they can only be the best medicine. Camp Okizu is amazing.

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

I wouldn't .

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?

2011

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Being a counselor at an Okizu summer camp session is by far the greatest part of my summer and has been for the past 7 years. Seeing the kids get off the bus nervous, anxious, and excited the first day and getting back on the bus the last day full of smiles, loaded with friend's phone numbers, and exploding with memories makes my year.

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

Provide more camp opportunities for Teens and Twenties (it is the smallest of their 4 camp programs).

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  

Okizu is indescribable. It's life changing. As a volunteer you will take away more from your experience than you can even put in. A week at this magical place with campers affected by childhood cancer is actually the place people go to forget cancer. It's based on peer-support and respite in the most beautiful place possible. To be surrounded by so much potential sadness, I have never seen so many smiles in one place. Go! Experience the magic! It's worth every second.

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  

Okizu is the most wonderful organization I've ever volunteered with. Between the siblings program, the oncology program, and the family weekends, there is something there to help every person in a family that is affected by childhood cancer. It is absolute magic how sometimes tired, run down families arrive and within a day they are happy and refreshed. The kids find support in each other at summer camp because they are surrounded by peers that have shared their experience and actually know the hardships they've lived through. Everyone at Okizu is so accepting, people are truly free to be themselves and not worry about being judged for their feelings or appearances. The counselors all truly care about the campers and making sure they have an amazing time while they are with us. Unlike many other summer camps, Okizu's counselors are all volunteers; we keep returning every year because we love it and can't wait to come back again. I've never worked with an organization where everyone felt like family after one week. Some of my closest friends are other counselors I have met through Okizu.

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?

2012

 
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