Over 1.8 million nonprofits and charities for donors, volunteers and funders

2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Okizu

4,911 pageviews

Claim This Nonprofit

More Info

Add to Favorites

Share this Nonprofit

Donate

Volunteering Oportunities

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

114 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!!

Patty38

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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

Belle M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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 ❤️

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

Elisabeth4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Meghan15

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended Camp Okizu as a sibling my entire childhood and even came back as an adult as a counselor. The bonds that I built with friends have lasted even past my camp years and well into my adult hood, I cherish those friendships and would not have survived without the. Okizu gave a place for my mom and sister to heal after my brother passed, and Okizu continues to honor my brother, Christopher Thompson, even after all these years. I am PROUD to say I am apart of the Okizu Family.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My granddaughter is a cancer patient in remission. She attends Camp Okizu every year. She and her family also attend family camp. Her sister, my other granddaughter who also has medical problems is in the Teen and Twenties club at Camp Okizu . This is a wonderful nonprofit organization. My husband and I have gone to pick the girls up from camp, nothing but SMILES, how wonderful this is to see. When you look around you see a lot of little bald heads, but it doesn’t matter there, they are not embarrassed they can be their selves and nothing but FUN. Thank You Camp Okizu for doing such a wonderful job!
Patricia Johnson

Donor

Rating: 5

My son was diagnosed with Leukemia as a young boy. It is difficult to take a trip as a family with a sick child who needs medications, is bald and acting up because of all the medications. We were able to attend several family weekends at Camp Okizu where all those things are normal, everyone has been there, nobody notices the loss of hair and other families have advice on how to deal with things. He is now in remission and a camper in the summer oncology camp...he turned down a trip to Europe because he'd rather spent a week at Camp Okizu. His older brother was under lots of stress when his brother got sick and was finally able to talk about it with other kids at siblings camp. My husband and I have donated a car, helped with fundraisers and are planning to do much more for this amazing organization that brings so much joy to families living through the nightmare of childhood cancer.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Okizu has been a place my kids have longed to be every summer. My middle daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 18 months old. She started going to camp Okizu when she was 7 years old. She has been fighting cancer relapse her whole life. She is now 20 years old and is a 13 year veteran camper, never missed a year. The past two years she has gone back as an adult and volunteered her time at Camp Okizu's family camp. Her older sister also attended camp her entire childhood and also went back to volunteer as an adult for two years in a row. Her younger brother, now 15, has also been going since he was a baby (family camp with us), and to siblings camp since he was 7 years old. He loves it so much, he cant wait to volunteer at Camp Okizu like his sisters when he grows up. The kids have always felt loved, safe, supported, understood and carefree at camp. Its a place to belong, let go, have fun. The zip-lining, archery, crafts, boating, hiking, swimming, fishing, camp songs, dances, sharing time, friendships made, awesome fun counselors, fart contests, sleeping under the stars, and Tajar sightings, are just a few of the amazing memories that will last a life time. Camp Okizu is part of the fabric of our lives. Its whats made the most scary thing ever(cancer) into not so scary. We are forever grateful. Its an experience that makes you want to give back & a beautiful blessing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Emily68

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is a recent survivor of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. Camp Okizu helped us by connecting with other families and getting to feel normal somewhere. Our daughter had so much fun at camp and came home more confident. Sibling camp helped her sister understand more about what our family has gone through while at the same time letting her be a kid.
The wonderful staff at Okizu really care for the kids and make them all feel so loved and special.

Ingrid T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We just returned from our first Family Camp. I was so moved by the kindness of the staff, counselors, volunteers and other families. It was the first time my sons were able to have real camp experiences. I felt totally comfortable letting my kids go with the counselors because I know that they know how worried I can be (without having to say anything) and could deal with however my son would react - having been sick and next to me for the last 3+ years. I cannot wait to go again as I see it as a wonderful and unique opportunity for my kids to grow tremendously and to form lasting friendships over the years. Grateful!!!

Maria70

Client Served

Rating: 5

Okizu has been there for my Child after he was diagnose with high risk ALL Leukemia by providing him with the opportunity to attend camp even though he was under chemotherapy treatment. Okizu gave him a sense of independence, the opportunity to make friends and the chance to be able to share his feelings after a devastating diagnosis with kids just like him that knows what he is going thru. The doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers are fantastic, for the Children they are family, I still remembered his first time attending... He so was scare... When he came back the first thing he said to me " I can hardly wait for next year!!! Ever since ,my son looks forward to attend and join his new found friends. I have seen my child come back from camp more confident, independent, and mature. The last time he came from camp he said to me " Okizu has been the best thing that ever happen to me". Thank you Okizu!!!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Looking forward for this year camp!!!
Life changing experience for my son ALL survivor, 8 months after finishing with his treatment, he can hardly wait to share a week out of a year with his friends, doctors, nurses, volunteers. Okizu has provided him with independence, motivation and a sense of normalcy during his chemotherapy treatment, be able to reconnect with life long friendships and share feelings, bring hope as a survivor to other campers on treatment. Best therapy!!! Camp Okizu is amazing!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am the Grandmother of a child with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy who attends Camp Okizu every summer. Her siblings attend during sibling weeks. They are so excited to go and the experience has helped them all cope with illness in their family.

Meghan A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Okizu was a lifeline for me, my son with cancer and his brother. Dr. Mike Avalon and director John Bell gave of themselves wholeheartedly to help educate and support each and every one of us. Groups for parents to share and listen were invaluable. The camp and the counselors was the one place my son felt saw him as a person, not his cancer. He felt free and happy with everyone there. Please give generously to support this much needed and valuable service which benefits so many in so many profound ways.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Jodie L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.