Camp offers fun, support to children facing cancer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007

&8220;Will my mommy lose her hair?&8221;

&8220;What&8217;s it going to be like? Will she get sick?&8221;

&8220;I&8217;m scared that my dad&8217;s going to die.&8221;

No questions or topics are taboo at Camp Newhope. The camp, held twice a year at Hargis Retreat, offers a day of fun and support for children ages 6-18 with a loved one facing cancer.

&8220;We give them an opportunity to talk and ask questions, but we also want it to be a day where they can get away and swim, canoe and be a kid for a little while,&8221; said Carmen Bedwell of Chelsea, who along with her daughter, Crystal Langford, has run the camp for the Alabama Foundation for Oncology (AFO) since Langford started it in 2002.

The most recent camp, held June 2, gave six children a safe place to talk about their struggles – something Bedwell and Langford say is vital.

They should know.

Langford was in the sixth grade when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Two years later, doctors discovered that her father had a brain tumor as well.

&8220;I felt like I couldn&8217;t share my concerns with my parents because they had so much on their plates,&8221; Langford said.

So to help others struggling with the same trauma, she started a support group for junior high students that she facilitated through high school. Then while she was in college, AFO approached Langford about starting Camp Newhope. Knowing the impact it could make on children, she dove in full-force.

&8220;I wanted them to have a place where they could realize they are not alone, that there are other children out there who have the same concerns,&8221; Langford said.

Children like Zach, 12, say the camaraderie is the best part of the camp.

Zach has been to the camp six times since his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

&8220;They showed me what would happen and how to deal with it,&8221; he said. &8220;The only thing I would change there is that it is only two times a year. I wish it was every weekend so I could see everyone there.&8221;

Ashley, 11, whose grandfather has cancer, agreed. &8220;It&8217;s fun to come to camp and if you want to talk about someone in your family that has cancer, you can.&8221;

The next Camp Newhope is scheduled for Nov. 10. For more information, visit or call 205-877-2224