Kids fighting cancer get to go camping

June 14, 2012 9:44:06 AM PDT
For children battling cancer, treatment can be devastating. And with chemotherapy drugs knocking their immune systems down, many rarely get a chance to participate in the activities that healthy children do. But on Wednesday, patients with appointments at the Texas Children's Hospital Cancer Center actually got to go camping.

'Camp Periwinkle' took over the 14th flood of Texas Children's Hospital for the day. The Periwinkle Foundation, an organization with a mission to brighten the lives of children facing cancer, put on the camp, complete with arts and crafts, face painting, and songs around a pretend campfire.

This is the second year the Periwinkle Foundation has brought the camp activities right to the kids.

"This got started last year as a joint effort between The BG Group and the Periwinkle Foundation, where we wanted to bring our camp, which is usually in the rolling hills or the Hill Country, and we wanted to bring our camp to the hospital on a day that kids can't always go to camp," said Periwinkle Foundation President Joe Birkofer. "And this day, today, has been a tremendous success."

It took two to three dozen volunteers from the BG Group, along with the Periwinkle Foundation, to put on the camp. For the past 30 years, Birkofer says he's seen the effect the camp and other events put on by his foundation have had on the lives of children battling cancer.

"We have campers now who are board members," he said. "We have campers who were little children and have grown up and have children of their own and they're part of the family."

An estimated 60 children who visited the cancer center got to take part in Camp Periwinkle Wednesday. But those who couldn't make it didn't miss out on the fun. Care package knapsacks were made and taken the children who were inpatient.

The Periwinkle Foundation relies on the support of corporate partners and donations throughout the year so it can offer its services to the children and families for free. But Birkofer says it really pays off when he sees the million dollar smiles on the children's faces.

"Childhood cancer doesn't really discriminate and at the end of the day, we're looking for ways to bring fun into the process of helping kids heal," he said.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer with the Periwinkle Foundation, you can find out how at

Video in window above is Birkofer talking about Camp Periwinkle.

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