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Okizu

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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

116 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Whitney11

Client Served

Rating: 5

Plain and simple okizu saved my life. I was 13 when I got sick and became reclusive, okizu brought me back to life. I am forever in their debt!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Nathan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 2 years old. Spending time at Camp Okizu as a family, getting support from other families in the same situation has been invaluable in our journey to recovery. My son is now in remission and attends oncology camp every summer. It's his favorite place in the world and our family supports this wonderful nonprofit wholeheartedly.

Donor

Rating: 5

I started going to Camp Okizu at a young age I think about 5 or 6 so a little more than 20 years ago, and I truly enjoyed every moment that I've had there. From kayaking, archery, night hikes, baseball lunch, learning silly camp songs, and even talking about the reason why camp Okizu exist...The location may have changed but the memories will last a lifetime. Thanks OKIZU!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, Nicholas Moore was diagnosed with ALL in 1987. He died at the age of 9, in 1993. Camp Okizu has an amazing program that help me enrich my children's lives during their formative years. I can see the positive impact that the Okizu Foundation has on their lives today, they are in their thirities. They are confident in dealing with crisis in their own lives, as well as they are comfortable reaching out for help. They learned from role models how to be a role model. Camp Okizu gave them memories of a happy childhood.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 2 sons attended Camp Okizu as patient and sibling for multiple years spanning 2006-2013. They both loved going and had wonderful things to say! The experience enriched their lives. My son has not attended bereavement camp yet. - Thank you for providing my sons such great memories!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Okizu for many years now and I can honestly say it is the most magical place on Earth. As soon as you drive on to the property it's like there is an electricity in the air. The programs are amazing for the kids and families served. The weight that has been lifted off of everybody's shoulders is clearly visible just after a day or two. There are weekends for the whole families to come up and spend time together and with other families that have been affected by childhood cancer, week-long summer camp sessions for both patients/survivors and their siblings, weekends specifically for bereaved teenagers, and weekend trips for young adults.

Jessica250

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I attended Family Camp in 2014 and 2015. Camp Okizu provides incredible support to families facing pediatric cancer. The opportunity to experience a sense of normalcy in spite of everything was wonderful.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended Camp Okizu as a Sibling (SIBs) from 1987-1998. My sisters also attended the SIBs and Oncology summer programs and my family participated in the weekend family camps. Okizu was an invaluable resource for our family. The comfort, confidence, love and support we received through Okizu was huge. Having experienced, first hand, the benefits that their programs provide I have continued to work with them as a summer camp counselor, work weekend volunteer, and assisting in their various fundraising events. Their staff is amazing! Thank you for all that you have done for our family and continue to do for our community!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Catrina H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!!!

Michael255

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!!!

Ronni S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!,

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Jessica158

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Rebekah10

Client Served

Rating: 5

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....

Jen_40

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!