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

2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Okizu

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

30 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Danica C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Okizu is hands down the best thing to ever happen to me and I know I'm not alone on that. It helps families deal with the affects of childhood cancer, and it has helped me greatly throughout the years. I absolutely would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for Okizu.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Camp Okizu is a memorable place for all that experience it. I have volunteered at summer and family camps as a camp counselor and have made many friends at camp. I have seen dedicated leadership, staff and volunteers impact children socially by welcoming all children, and have seen staff support children while they continue to be kids! With children going through a variety of emotions (being a siblings or oncology camper) they are welcomed, supported and encouraged to be themselves without worrying about what others would say! Love this organization and I hope to get back this year!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Camp Okizu is the reason for every single happy summer I have ever had. I look forward to my week(s) at camp with burning anticipation, and have since the summer my twin brother was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma at the age of 9. I will never be able to adequately explain how big of an impact my Okizu family had had on my life since. I will forever be indebted to them.

Michael357

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over one week I never thought that one camp would have such a big impact on my life. The love, happiness and kids excitement is what indescribable! I can't wait to go back, OKIZU is truly the happiest place on Earth!

Lisa505

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Okizu for over 20 years...fundraising, board of directors, counselor at family camp, general worker bee...the magic and energy is deep in my heart, but little did I know how much strength it would give me when my own son (how ironic) would be diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma a year and a half ago at the age of 26...Strength, Hope and Comfort...Okizu taught me well..son is thriving...Okizu Strong!

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.

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.

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!,

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!!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From the minute I stepped off the bus at Camp Okizu I knew it was an amazing place. Being a 17 year old camper I was quite hesitant to attend in the first place, but as I walked through the funnel of cheering counselors I knew I was in a very special place. I was hooked after my first week. Once I turned 18 I applied to be a volunteer counselor, I signed up to work for 3 weeks and ended up staying for 4. The environment that Okizu creates is beyond amazing. Whether you are a camper or a counselor you know that you are supported in anything that you do. Okizu has made me into the person I am today, some of my greatest friends and mentors are my fellow volunteers at camp. I count down the days until I can be back at Okizu next summer.

Kristi R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first started coming to camp as a sibling's camper in 2001 and began volunteering in 2005. Camp Okizu is a truly amazing place from all aspects. The families and volunteers form a community where everyone feels welcome, safe, and genuinely cared about. Families are able to take a break from their daily routine of hospital visits to come to a beautiful site and visit with families facing similar adversities. The volunteers truly engage with the kids and allow them to have fun, no matter what health restrictions. This camp has such a positive impact on the families it serves and the volunteers it requires. Okizu truly is a great nonprofit.

Alison13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I stared going to Okizu when I was thirteen in 2002 right after I finish chemo. I was very nervous since I have never been to a summer camp. My brother got to go before me and came back with so many stories on how camp works, so I was curious if I would fit it. When I got on the bus I was so surprise that there were so many kids that has gone through what I had gone through. I can't really express how Okizu really change my life when I first step foot off that bus, but it was like a load was lifted off my shoulders because everyone treat you no different even though I had no hair or needed help getting around. When I turned 18 I was ready to become a counselor because I could not see myself not giving back to an organization that has done so much for my family and I and still do. Even though I am not a camper any more I still feel that Okizu is supporting me through my struggles in life. I plan my life around Okizu because of the smile on the kids face and the laughter. There is no other place then Okizu where no one in the family is left out with support and the load that gets lifted from the shoulder is like life maybe not as hard when so many great people are willing to lend a hand. Okizu is a place that people need to experience to really understand what it takes to make a difference in these family and how one week can change a kid's life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"A week in August is non-negotiable." That's what my best friend told the numerous employers recruiting him. He was referring to the time he absolutely, under no circumstances, required so that he could volunteer as a counselor at Camp Okizu. And after that week, every August, he would tell me how life-changing the week had been for him. Though struggling with cancer himself, he devoted that week to children with cancer, hoping to give them a week to feel the joys of childhood that are so often stolen by childhood cancer. And while I know he succeeded in making a difference in those children's lives, he also walked away refreshed, revitalized, and filled with a vivaciousness that no treatment could ever provide. When he lost his battle with cancer, I chose to volunteer in his memory, to attempt to continue his legacy. The smiles, the laughter, the moments of joy, the triumphs, the struggles, the tears, the dancing, the friendship bracelets, the memories... They are only a teensy-tiny portion of what Okizu provides for families affected by childhood cancer.