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

2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Okizu

4,940 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

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Okizu (which serves kids with cancer and their families) for over 15 years, first as a volunteer camp counselor and for the last 10 as a board member. I was first moved by the connection between the foundation and its constituents (both children and parents). I saw up close as a counselor the important need that was there and the positive and enduring impact that Okizu has on those it serves, not just at summer camp but year-round. Once I joined the board, I was very impressed with the passion and dedication of the Okizu family -- from the board to the staff to the volunteers. It is truly a wonderful organization that has made a life-long impact on those it serves.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family has been immensely helped by going to camps and re-charging. We could not have made it through without the kindenss and support of Okizu. They are the best.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had a 16 year old child who passed away of a family of 14 members. The family was financially unable to pay for the funeral. Camp Okizu stepped up and was able to assist both financially and with another organization they were able to have the funeral paid off. Per organization this is not something they ordinarily help with but in this case they did. Thank You to a wonderful organization. Extraordinare!!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Emily was diagnosed with cancer (Leukemia) when she was one year old. We struggled with the disease for 10 yrs before we lost her. During that 10 yrs, Emily had three relapses, brain surgery, a bone marrow transplant, over 360 days in the hospital and came to within hours of dying twice. Life was hard, but Emily and her two sisters, Katie and Molly kept all of us going through good times and bad through their love and kindness. The happiest we had ever seen Emily was when she attended Camp Okizu. Emily was fortunate enough to go twice. This was one of the only places she went where she could be a kid. She was happy, carefree and at least for one week during the summer, an eight year old little girl. She wasn't Emmie the cancer kid or Emmie the sick kid...she was just Emmie. We love Camp Okizu. Both Katie and Molly attended sibling camps and discovered other kids in the same situation they were in. The learned that they were not alone in this fight and being there helped them physically and emotionally. Both are now camp volunteers and were so affected by the camp that they spend many weeks each year donating their time. The icing on the cake is that they have made life-long friends and have discovered what is truly important in life...family and friends.. I could go on and on about Okizu. The generosity of Camp Okizu, from the founders, doc and nurses, staff and volunteers is boundless and they never ask a camper or their family to pay for this experience. Please find it in your heart to donate to Camp Okizu. God bless you and from our little angel Emily, who received so much joy from this camp, a million heavenly smiles, and joyous laughter from so many kids who deserve to laugh. The Coyne Family

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This organization for 30 years has been bringing some normalcy into the lives of children and their families who have lost feeling normal due to the diagnosis of childhood cancer in a family member. Whole families are affected, not just the child with cancer, and all their lives ara dramatically changed. Okizu's effective services are provided free of charge to the patient, sibs, parents and grandparents by volunteer medical professionals, experienced staff (many of whom are volunteer) and the affected children and families who effectively support one another like on one else can. The program fine tuned with 30 years of experience is a life changing one for participants. The organization budget is efficiently honed and the management is stable and a model for its dedication to the mission.

Review from Guidestar

Deborah20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 11. My daughter went to oncology camp at camp okizu and loved the ropes course. She loved the ropes course so much that she works at the ropes course on her college campus and wants to incorporate a ropes course into her future occupation. Her siblings love go to sibs camp at camp okizu. We love to go to famly camp together every summer. We all love and appreciate camp okizu.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization. Dedicate volunteer serving the Pediatrics Oncology population. Wonderful camp each summer for patient and family of patients.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Camp Okizu as a camper, a volunteer, and a fundraiser, and in each and every interaction with the Okizu Foundation, I am astounded by the healing power it generates through community, peer support, and play. When I was 13 years old, my younger brother was diagnosed with leukemia. I went to Family Camp and SIBS camp as a camper. My family never once had to worry about the cost of sending me to camp because the services are free to all families, which is an amazing relief when dealing with childhood cancer! As a camper, I built incredible relationships with fellow SIBS and their dedicated volunteer staff, and my family was able to heal and grow through the traumatic experience of childhood cancer.

Once I turned 18, I was thrilled to see another side of the Okizu Foundation. As a volunteer, I devoted my time during the summer week-long sessions and fall weekend family camps. In the past ten years, I have volunteered at oncology camp, SIBS camp, family camp, and bereaved teens weekend. Even though each experience is unique, I am transformed every single time. The parents and children may come to camp with a heavy load on their shoulders, but they leave with a sense of serenity and unity that only Camp Okizu can provide. As a volunteer, I have seen how dedicated the Okizu Foundation’s small staff is to creating the ultimate camp experience for their campers and for their volunteers. The meals, all-camp events, games, camp fires, discussion groups, crafts, and games are all planned and implemented with intention, organization, fun, and love for the campers.

Now that I am an adult, I can look back at my adolescence and point at the exact moment when I realized that I was special, unique, and capable of anything I put my mind to. It was the second that I arrived at Camp Okizu. As I exited the bus, I felt the support and love flooding from the volunteers and the staff singing the welcome song to us. Now, over 14 years later, I think about how Okizu has impacted me, and I look forward to future opportunities to give back to this amazing organization.

Review from Guidestar

bbender734

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son was treated for leukemia for many years, and finally underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2001. I am happy to say that he is now 10 and one half years post transplant and doing well. During those difficult treatment years, and in the years of the bmt recovery the Okizu Foundation offered to us a remarkable opportunity to attend their camp. They have week long sessions for cancer kids, as well as sessions for siblings of oncology patients. Siblings are often lost in the shuffle when a family is hit with a cancer diagnosis. Okizu many years ago saw a need to help the sibs, and it really makes a difference. It give those brothers and sisters of cancer patients an opportunity to spend a week with others in the same situation. And in the fall and spring families are invited to spend long weekends there. It is a beautiful camp near Oroville.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’d like to share some information with you about my organization, the Okizu Foundation. My camp name is Homer. We all get camp names and somehow, I got Homer. How that came to be my name is a long story in and of itself, but I will say that it wasn’t due to any special poet-skills as in Homer of Iliad/Odyssey fame..more like Homer of mythical Springfield and Mr. Plow fame, you know, The Simpsons. Anyway, as I said, this is a review for the Okizu Foundation, an organization founded in 1981 with the singular purpose of providing a safe place for children ages 6-17, suffering from cancer, to have a summer-camp experience just like any other kid might be able to do. Okizu, a Lakota Sioux word means, loosely translated, unity and peace. And those two words embody the spirit of Okizu; there is unity in that we are all family there, from the campers to the staff, and we all have a sense of peace from knowing that we are all in this together. There are several programs available, all of them free to the campers and their families; a week long residency camp for oncology patients, a separate week long residency camp for the siblings of the oncology patient, select weekends in the spring and fall for the entire family (mother, father, SIBS and onc patients), a bereavement program for the family and special weekends for older campers (18-23 years old).
The actual mission statement 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. And, it does so in large measure by the wonderful support of volunteers. In fact, most of the work force at Okizu is made up of volunteers with only a verrrrry small number of paid staff. I’m a volunteer myself and found my way up to the camp about 7 or 8 years ago, simply because a friend who volunteered told me that once I went there, my life would forever change. That’s a big statement and one that I ignored for 2 years or so. But my friend was persistent in telling me great tales of camping with the most wonderful kids, of seeing their faces light up upon arrival and the tears when they had to go home, of being swept up in their courage and grace and I said okay, might as well give it a go. The minute I drove through the gates of the camp (it’s located on 500 beautiful acres in the tiny town of Berry Creek in the Sierra foothills above Oroville, California) I was hooked; I knew that I had found that place, my way to give-back to the community. Now I can say this with the utmost sincerity, if everyone spent even 1 week at Okizu, working with the most wonderful children ever, there would be a lot less conflict in the world. I personally run marathons and I think of myself as strong and courageous. But honestly, I pale in comparison to these kids, both the SIBS (Special, Important Brothers and Sisters) and oncology campers. The dignity, poise, grace and courage they exhibit prove to me that I have a long way to go to be as brave and strong as them. And, we all learn from them as well; each week I’m up there, I learn something new and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Last year, one small 6 year old SIBS camper, whose favorite show is Mythbusters, told me that C4 is a better choice for demolition projects than TNT. (Good to know!) He then told me that if he could, he'd use C4 to "blow-up cancer forever" His brother had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and my camper wanted to blow up the disease..hopefully not his brother! ;-) I truly love these kids and am very grateful for the opportunity to be there for them. I figure a few weeks out of my year are small in comparison to what these young heroes are going through. And, volunteering at Okizu doesn't require any special college major or emphasis; one doesn’t have to be a social worker or medical professional. All you have to be is human, one with compassion for kids and a desire to have fun, because that’s what you will have; fun. As we like to say during staff training, fun is Okizu’s number one rule. Now I won't kid you, It is intense; it is hard work, but it is such a rewarding experience that, well, if I could bottle the “Essence of Okizu”, I could probably retire rich and famous like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. But again, Okizu isn’t about anything EXCEPT giving respite to the families, kids and adults alike, from the disease the entire family is dealing with. We give these kids a chance to be kids and that’s what we’re all about. Would I recommend this organization? I'm not sure if there is a term to adequately describe my enthusiastic YES!!! But if there was, it would be Tajarlistically you bet!!

Review from Guidestar