Frequently Asked Questions
Camp Casco is a week-long sleep-away summer camp for childhood cancer patients and survivors.
Our campers are childhood cancer patients or survivors who are age 7-17 years old on the first day of camp (August 21). Campers must have written approval from their doctor to attend Camp Casco.
1. Our Campers
Camp Casco is an incredibly special place, and this is first and foremost because of the incredibly special campers who attend. All of our campers share a similar experience with childhood cancer, whether they are still on treatment or are several years in remission. This common thread tends to naturally create a very inclusive and supportive environment, and our experienced, attentive camp counselors make sure this is the case.
2. Personal Attention
Our camp is very small, with only 30 camper spaces available in 2017. It's important to us that every camper gets tons of personal attention at Camp Casco, and we make sure this is the case with a nearly 1:1 Camper to Counselor ratio. While we plan to grow in future years, we love knowing every camper personally, so our dedication to personal attention will continue to be a huge priority.
3. Long-Term Friendships
It is our goal to create and nurture friendships that will last far beyond the week of camp. For this reason, there is no limit on the number of times campers can attend Camp Casco. Every camper is encouraged to return as many times as they like until they turn 18. In addition, we provide free family socials throughout the year to reunite our campers, siblings, families, and volunteers, to strengthen bonds and keep in touch. All past, present, and potential campers and families are welcome to attend these free events!
Safety is our absolute, #1 priority at camp. We transform one room of our lodge into our "Med Shed", where volunteer doctors and nurses can be found anytime throughout the week. Our medical volunteers check in on campers regularly throughout the week to make sure everyone is staying hydrated, sunscreened, and well-rested. They administer daily medications and provide any first aid care as needed. We have an incredible team of experienced medical professionals returning to our Med Shed in 2017.
The only cost associated with attending Camp Casco is a nonrefundable application fee is $100. This fee is a small fraction of the actual cost to send each child to camp for a full week, and allows us to continue to provide our camp year after year. Please note: the application fee is automatically waived for campers who apply by March 15, 2017, so we encourage parents to apply early!
Camp Casco takes place at a YMCA campsite, so we are able to offer many traditional summer camp activities like swimming, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, indoor climbing tower, and campfires. In addition, we add our own special programming to make the week even more fun, including a camp dance, talent show, water fight, and a theme for the week! But while we jam-pack our daily schedule to make the most of our time at camp, there are always opportunities for campers to take a break, any time they like. The Med Shed is the perfect spot for a nap or some quiet time during a busy camp day.
For an even better idea of what daily life is like at Camp Casco, visit our Camp Life page!
A complimentary bus to and from the campsite is provided for all campers from designated sites in the Brookline and Worcester areas of Massachusetts. However, you are more than welcome to drive to or from the campsite if you prefer!
We camp at the YMCA Berkshire Outdoor Center in Becket, Massachusetts. Camp Casco requires no camping experience whatsoever! We like to think of Camp Casco as more of an experience in "glamping". "Glamping" refers to "glamorous camping", and means that our campers enjoy electricity, indoor wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, hot water, and single or bunk beds.
We stay in the Manor Lodge, a large two-story building with wheelchair-accessible entrances to both floors (see right). We share one large common room for cabin time, and our spare bedroom is transformed into our "Med Shed". Campers are assigned to their bedrooms by gender, and every bedroom has at least 2 counselors assigned to it. Being housed in one lodge means that lots of helpful adults are always nearby, and that the Med Shed is convenient to everyone.
The campsite itself is quite large, so we take this into consideration when planning our daily activities to maximize our time and energy. On the campus map (right), we've highlighted our lodge and the areas of camp we visit the most throughout the week. In general, the campsite has wide, flat, dirt paths that are not steep. We take short walks between activities, and all-terrain wheelchairs are always available for any camper to use throughout the week.
Camp food is delicious, nutritious, and best of all, kid-friendly. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served every day in the YMCA Dining Center, and we keep lots of nutritious snacks on hand in case campers get hungry between meals.
Food is served buffet-style and is easy to adapt to a camper's particular tastes. Campers and counselors line up to serve themselves at each meal, and can take as much or as little of each food item as they like. This allows our campers to see and smell each food before deciding if they'd like to try it, and makes it easy to go back for more. It also makes it easy to assemble food to each camper's liking.
Fruit and cereal are always available at breakfast, and a full salad bar is always available at lunch and dinner. Specific dietary preferences (like vegetarian, vegan, or kosher diets) can also be accommodated, but we ask that you note this on the camper application so that we may notify the YMCA.
Being away from home can be tough for campers of any age, and it's natural to miss family members or pets during the week. We find that phone calls home can sometimes draw out homesickness even longer, so we have a number of other strategies up our sleeves that we prefer to use instead. Our daily schedule is jam-packed with fun activities and surprises, which generally help keep camper minds preoccupied. Often, quiet time is when homesickness may arise, but a listening ear, a hug, and a gentle redirection of the conversation cure most cases. Our counselors get to know our campers very well during the week, so reminding campers that they get to do their favorite activity again the next day, or hinting that we might be having their favorite meal for tomorrow night's dinner, can go a really long way. Encouraging camp friends and silly counselors can quickly help turn frowns upside down.
Besides, if all else fails - our "Homesick Pills" (Skittles and M&Ms found in the Med Shed) are pretty much foolproof!
We welcome any and all questions, so don't be shy! We are also happy to offer phone calls and home visits to answer your questions and help you and your family feel more comfortable. Contact us, and a member of our team will follow up with you right away!