HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A group of children had the chance to just be kids for a weekend.
"Our camp is free for all of our kids here at Texas Children's who have cleft lip or palate" pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Laura Monson said.
Affecting one in 700 births annually, cleft lip or palate is a condition where there's not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area. For the tissue that is present, it does not form properly. Multiple corrective surgeries are often required.
"There's usually at least 4 procedures and maybe more that children need during the course of their life to not only address appearance issues, but speech issues and dental issues as well" Dr. Monson said.
Because many face difficulties with social interactions growing up, Camp Keep Smiling was created to help those who were born with the defect.
Dr. Monson said "so we started the camp as a way to connect all of our kids together and give them a chance to make friends with other kids who are going through a similar situation. We go horseback riding, we do archery and paintball. They have a very large outdoor ropes course."
One of those involved with the camp is pediatric plastic surgery physician assistant, Michelle Roy.
"I was born with a bilateral cleft lip palate and so it's something that's kind of near and dear to my heart to work with this patient population" Roy told us.
She says her connection with these kids has been a blessing.
"Kind of taken what I've gone through and turned it into a positive. So definitely taking my life experience and try to turn them around and to use them for something good. To see all their happiness was well worth the hard work" Roy explained.
Happiness indeed, as each camper develops new friendships with others sharing similar experiences.