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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Camps, Cancer, Counseling, Mental Health, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Grantmaking Foundations, Sports

Mission: The mission of Okizu is to provide peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs to meet the needs of all members of families affected by childhood cancer.

Results: 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, 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, more than 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.

Direct beneficiaries per year: More than 3,000 members of families with childhood cancer.

Geographic areas served: Northern California

Programs: Okizu 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 nine times per 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 two 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 3,000 children and families from 38 California counties and Nevada. Due to the enormous financial burden of cancer treatment, Okizu does not charge families a fee to attend or send their children to camp. Our corps of more than 600 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.

Community Stories

51 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

It's the best place on Earth! Met my husband and my BFF there as an oncology camper in 1989. It's a place to feel normal as a cancer kid.

Jessica O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't find words to express how special this place and the staff are. They forever have a home in my heart!

Sunnie T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family and I were bless to be able to attend this amazing camp years ago when I was diagnosed with Leukemia. It's an amazing organization and helped me and my family through a very difficult time in our lives. The entire staff is absolutely amazing, caring, loving and tons of fun. Camp Okizu made a huge difference in my life and and will always be an organization near and dear to my heart!

Lori156

Client Served

Rating: 5

Okizu is one of the best things that happened not just to myself but to my family. I tell my friends if u don't qualify to be a "camper" hopefully ur lucky enough to be a volunteer. This camp is fun,safe, and life changing in such a positive way you have to experience it for urself! Please take time and check out the website and hey if you don't have time to volenteer ...you can always donate;).

Shannon107

Client Served

Rating: 5

Incredible place that has helped both my oncology kid and his sister

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Okizu has been a home away from home for my family! The camp located in Berry Creek is BREATHTAKING, and all of the staff has been amazing! You see, my little brother died from childhood cancer a few years ago, and my other brothers and I have continued to gain so much support from the community at Okizu! My family goes to family camp every summer and we always consider it a highlight. We know it is somewhere we can go as a family and be supported because others know exactly what we are going through! (Also, the food is amazing too!) HIGHLY RECOMMEND Camp Okizu!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has gone to Camp Okizu every summer for the last 7 years....sick or not. She's made and kept many amazing friends, loves to dance with her Oncology Doc, zip line, swim, wet boat/dry boat...and so much more. She caught her first fish ever with Bassmaster.This last summer she scored a bullseye with a bow and arrow...not bad for a girl with very low vision. She knew she did well because of the cheers around her. So many good memories and terrific people! Okizu has been an important part of my daughter's life....and we are so grateful for it!

Nancy228

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a bereaved family it's hard to go anywhere where you are truly understood. Camp Okizu is that place. The staff and setting are fantastic and creates a caring environment that honors all of our children, both living and dead.

Elizabeth198

Client Served

Rating: 5

Okizu has always been a special place for my family. After losing our son to cancer, we were sent to camp in order to begin to heal. We came to know some great families who shared similar circumstances, all while being supported by the exceptional staff of Okizu. We look forward to going year after year and being there for families who are just starting their journeys. I can't begin to imagine how they do what they do year after year, sharing their live and our heartache and pain, but they always are there.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was diagnosed with ALL at the age of 3. His siblings felt alone, and especially at school. My eldest was only 8 at the time and when she tried to tell her friends...they called her weird and didn't want to talk to her anymore. Camp gave her a place to belong. She could express her fears and frustrations and not be called names. Our children have gone to camp for 5 summers and has made life long friends. We go to family camp and connect with other parents who have gone through the same trials as us. The staff is amazing, and kind. They love the kids and my kids talk about their camp counselors all year hoping to get them again the following summer.