What is Inhibitor Family Camp?
Hemophilia Inhibitor Family Camp was founded in 2010 by Comprehensive Health Education Services (CHES), and is made possible through an educational grant provided by Novo Nordisk. There are currently two programs held annually, both take place at camps that are part of the Serious Fun Network (formerly known as The Hole in the Wall Camps):
- Spring camp was at the Painted Turtle in Lake Hughes, CA during the spring of 2015.
- Fall camp is at Victory Junction in Randleman, NC, October 16-19, 2015. Register here.
Grateful to be nearing the end of a long day of travel, my family finally reached the welcoming gates of Victory Junction—the site of inhibitor family camp in Randleman, North Carolina. The shuttle driver maintained his happy grin as the vehicle slowly rolled over speed bumps, passing a small, serene lake. In the distance, a brightly colored tower in the shape of a hot air balloon seemed to stand guardian over the wooded grounds. It reminded me of the hot air balloon from the opening of the Wizard of Oz. What adventures would we have over the next few days?
Life is an adventure for those of us who live with inhibitors. Because of extremely unpredictable bleeding patterns for children with inhibitors, local hemophilia camps are often not an option. But at inhibitor family camp, which we attended on October 17th-20th, the world opened up to us. With attentive counselors and medical staff, a safe environment was provided for these amazing children and their families to experience life. Whether riding horses, bowling, making art projects, shooting bows and arrows , acting, or catching (and kissing!) fish, families were able to experience a whole lot of fun.
While the children were having fun, parents were able to connect, learn new life skills, and share life stories. There were two formal education programs: “How Inhibitors Affect the Family Unit,” presented by Dr. Gary McClain, and a 504/IEP workshop run by Janet Brewer, MEd. We were lucky to also have three parent rap sessions where everyone could discuss a long list of other issues in which we have shared concerns. Few are the moments where I feel that others truly understand what life is like with an inhibitor. At inhibitor family camp, everyone seems instantly connected. It didn’t take long before we were all acting like life-long friends, sharing laughs and tears that maybe only those affected understand.
The holiday season is always a great time to reflect on what we are most grateful for. For me, being connected to other families with inhibitors is a tremendous blessing, and I am so appreciative to Comprehensive Health Education Services (CHES)—the driving force behind camp, to Victory Junction for providing the facility and wonderful staff, and to Novo Nordisk for the educational grant that funds this amazing experience.
I am always amazed by how much I learn from my inhibitor friends—ways to survive the tough times and ways to thrive in the good times. More than anything, I am thankful not to be dealing with inhibitors alone—there’s an entire family willing to help me, just as I am willing to help them. Indeed, if I was in the Wizard of Oz movie clicking my heels together, chances are that I might just wake up at inhibitor family camp.
Derek and his wife Krisdee live in Kaysville, Utah with their children. Derek has been highly involved in the hemophilia community as a board member, a camp nurse, a camp director, an industry representative, and a Save One Life sponsor. He enjoys being outdoors and is currently training for his first Ironman triathlon.