Thank you again for another great summer camp experience! My son got in the car yesterday and said, “Mom, that was by far the best year ever!” As we continued to talk about things that happened that week he said, “I love it because everyone is on level ground. There aren’t clicks. There aren’t the jocks, the nerds....we are all the same. It’s not like that at school.” I know what you do takes a tremendous amount of planning and coordinating but every minute of it paid off! When you cheer for every camper that comes in and identify something specific about them they are really good at...it makes such a huge difference to who they believe they are. What an extraordinary group of people!
Our Son has a serious heart defect that makes our lives allot "different" from the normal family..daily medication, monthly (or more) doctor visits, extra precautions, disrupted events, and additional stress is just a little bit of what we deal with out of the love for him. No one "gets this" like other heart families, Camp Odayin is where we can all feel "normal" in the big group, we are not the minority here! We laugh, cry and share and learn from each other and come home with life long friendships that will support us all year long. Our family becomes closer as we learn we are not the only ones "dealing with this" we can de-stress and talk about ways to do make life better/easier. The camp staff always has great activities planned that takes us out of our "comfort zone" and lets us be silly in a way that makes lasting memories. We love Camp Odayin!
We are a family of four; our oldest child has a heart defect. Family Camp Odayin is a time for us as a whole family (not just the kids) to spend time connecting with eachother and connecting with other families who also have a child with a heart defect. We share similar experiences, hopes, and fears. Attending Family Camp Odayin makes us feel less alone and more "normal". The staff are outstanding; the facilities are outstanding; the cost is negligible. Five stars. Highly recommend.
My daughter started attending Camp Odayin at age 8 and "graduated" this past summer at age 17. Camp Odayin has always been the high light of the year for her. It gave her something to look forward to when things were tough. She has made some great friends through camp that truly understand what it's like to face the reality of having a chronic heart condition and the limitations that come with it. The staff is absolutely amazing at making these kiddo's feel good about their heart conditions and boosting their self-esteem. We are so thankful to be part of the Camp Odayin family!
Our daughter was born with 3 heart defects; Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection, ASD, VSD. She also suffered from frequent respiratory issues and could not handle heat and humidity well. As she began to get older, she wanted to do things other kids did and she longed for a little bit of independence. We heard about a new camp for heart kids. Because there was a cardiologist present 24/7, and nurses, and air conditioning in the cabins, we decided to let her try going to camp. She was 9 years old and part of the very first group at Camp Odayin in 2002.
To say it was a wonderful experience for her is really quite inadequate. She made life-long friends at Odayin. She gained independence and confidence. She didn't feel like she was the only one with a scar who had to be careful about what she did. The highlight of EVERY summer from then on was Camp Odayin. The beautiful thing for us as parents was that we honestly never worried about her safety and health. We knew she was in good hands and that she was having a great time. For kids like our daughter, Camp Odayin is the only option for experiencing camp because no other camp can take care of the health problems and emotional insecurities that accompany heart kids.
Our daughter is now all grown-up. She graduated from college, has an excellent job, and is living on her own. We thought that her days of Camp Odayin were sadly over- but no! She went back as a camp counselor in 2015 and plans to do so again in 2017! Thank you, Camp Odayin for being there for our daughter. She wouldn't be the confident, independent young woman she is today without you!
Camp Odayin went out of their way to help get my daughter there! The staff are all incredibly kind and genuine. Since she was little, my daughter has hated being "different" and at Camp Odayin, for the first time, she wasn't different. She was just a kid enjoying camp.
I began attending Camp Odayin at age 10 and went every summer for 7 years. This camp does more than just give kids with heart disease an opportunity to attend summer camp. It is a place where those kids can meet others, share their story, and realize they are not alone in their experiences. It is a place where those kids are able to act silly while growing confident in themselves. A place where scars are the norm and a family is made from the memories. The staff is amazing and the life lessons just as valued. A place where I learned that "all of our hearts are deeper than you can see, you can be happy if you let yourself be!"
I am a former camper of Odayin and I've never felt more at home. Being with other kids with the same scar and/or the same heart condition makes you feel normal. Camp Odayin is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
My name is Evan Jasnoch and I am 19 years old. I've been going to Camp Odayin every summer for as long as I can remember. For a place that deals specifically with kids with heart conditions, they do a wonderful job of helping kids accept who they are and allow them to have a true summer camp experience, undeterred by their conditions. I've never felt more safe or unafraid of who I am or what has happened to me, because at Camp Odayin I know that I am not alone, and that my condition makes me special but does not hold me back from living my life.
my daughter has gone to Camp Odayin for her 4th year, this year. It is her favorite place to go in the summer. I asked her the first time she came back from camp, what her favorite part, and she responded "they didn't judge me for my scar." that was the best feeling to me because now she can see other kids with the same kind of condition and see that everyone is the same and it is not stopping her from being her and fulfilling her dreams.
Camp Odayin is the most outstanding youth organization for kids with heart disease/defects. Our son loves going to camp. It is the highlight of his summer. Our family vacations are scheduled around this camp. We are blessed to know and be apart of this fantastic nonprofit. Keep up all the great work! Tauer Family
My son is a graduate this year with great saddness from Camp Odayin in other words he will be 18 and over the age to go next year. this was his 10th year of camp and each year as camp gets closer he has been remembering and talking about his friends and previous years experiences. Camp Odayin has given him self confidence and taught him he is not alone with a chest scar and previous heart problem. The staff and Counselors have been very profesional while making this a fun experience for the kids. The cost for this great camp has been minimal especialy when you get to see the pictures of all the activites and all the smiles on kids that just may not have had another chance to go to a summer camp
Every year this is one of my son's favorite weeks. The activities, staff and fellow campers are amazing. What a great organization! My son's comment when he arrived home "Mom, that was an awesome week!" and for a teenager to say that....pretty incredible!
Just finished my 10th or 11th week as a volunteer at Camp Odayin. The experience continues to inspire me. The children attending camp and the vounteers continue to bring endless positve energy and positive experiences for all. It is hard to imagine how the camp can improve, but somehow every year it gets better!
Keep up the great work!
This is the best camp in the State of Minnesota. I work in the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota and recruit medical, nursing, pharmacy, and other health professional students to volunteer at Camp Odayin. These students are in the midst of intensely rigorous academic programs yet care enough to volunteer their experience and skills to make a difference in the lives of the kids at camp in the very limited break they have from classes and rotations. They are also young enough (most in their early to mid-twenties) to be able to relate to the camper population, engage with them, and have fun with them. Perhaps best of all, because the camp is run on an almost entirely volunteer population, the only cost to campers and their families is a $25 registration fee which includes the entire week of camp experiences and activities! The families are so lucky to have the opportunity to attend a camp which focuses on kids with heart issues. I'm a huge fan of Camp Odayin.
I have been a Camp Odayin board member for 5 years and I can attest to the professionalism with which this organization pursues its mission. The staff are committed, qualified and passionate about what they do. The well-being of the campers is always #1 - as it should be. I am proud to be associated with Camp Odayin.
Disappointed in the Training of the counselors/staff - as they take volunteers-it's very transient. Kids with heart disease are affected emotionally more than just limited activities. All the fun camp stuff is great but these kids have things going on and they admit they aren't prepared to deal with them - though they advertise they give emotional guidance and direction and support.
The volunteer staff don't realize that as its short term good intention for them and they are following the leadership who doesn't want any disagreements. any disruptions just need to just go away until they are done at the end of the week. They could teach in that moment instead their leadership finds someone to take the blame, and any challenge and it comes down harder and harder.
I was asked to take my review down - but I said I wouldn't as I think if unread this I would've realized it wasn't a fit for my son. It might be for some - but he just isn't happy and felt the opposite of accepted seeing how things were run with him and others.
My kid was recently diagnosed 2 years ago and had 2 heart surgeries, where a lot of kids who attend were born with issues, the personal outlooks are different. Levels of limitations through life and understanding and acceptance differ. This camp is very very structured in activity, but not counseling or emotional needs which we believed were going to be the key component we were looking for. My kid hasn't been restricted before and wasn't now, so the activity level was less challenging then other camps so wasn't as impressed as other kids are, and the emotional value we hoped to get wasn't there. My kid felt like an outsider. So I guess when filling out the application and the mention the "right fit" this is what they are talking about and for the right camper it is.
The wrong fit can be harmful.
This summer will be my sixth summer as a camp nurse at Odayin. When I signed up six years ago, I was expecting to enjoy a week away at camp, on a lake, with some fun kids. What I ended up with was a life-changing week and a second "family." The kids weren't just fun, they were amazing. I was with the oldest kids (ages 14-17) and was blown away by the respect and concern they showed for others. Everyone was included, no matter their looks or level of ability. As someone who has worked with kids for years, this was nothing short of amazing (especially for teens!). At camp there are no bullies or hurt feelings; only friends, encouragement, and smiles. The kids make life-long friends and it is pretty cool to see.
Camp itself is also like nothing I ever experienced in my days at camp as a kid. The cabins are clean and comfortable, the food tastes great, and the activities for the kids are ridiculously awesome. The summer staff up at Camp K are super qualified and always have fun things planned.
Lastly, the Odayin staff and volunteers are great. The staff are organized and enthusiastic. They treat the volunteers and kids with the utmost appreciation and respect. The volunteers are awesome people with huge hearts. I have made some of my closest friends with fellow staff and volunteers at camp.
Camp really is just one of the most fun, amazing, life-changing places in the world. It is not an understatement to call Odayin a "family." I hope to still be volunteering there as a nurse in thirty years when I am old and gray!
Our son Kyle has been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome. Kyle attended Camp Odayin for the first time last summer and had an experience he will never forget. For the first time since he was diagnosed he had the freedom and the confidence to join in and forget about his condition and limitations. Camp Odayin creates a magical safe exciting place for sick kids to blend in and enjoy being a kid.