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Camp Periwinkle is saving Texas children's lives one week at a time

"Camp Periwinkle" at Camp For All in Burton, Texas is saving the lives of Texas Children's Cancer Center oncology patients one week at a time.

BURTON, Texas — Camp Periwinkle is a week-long overnight camp for children ages 7-15 who are currently being treated or previously treated for cancer at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. It returned to in-person this summer for the first time since 2019.

"What we try to do is give these campers back what their disease has taken from them," Camp Activities Director, Carlos Rivera said. "A lot of that is joy, and laughter."

Since 1985 Camp Periwinkle has been giving oncology patients and their siblings an opportunity to experience everything summer camp has to offer while still prioritizing their health. 

"When you look out and about, and you see the camp, and you see the kids playing and laughing and having an amazing time, after having perhaps been in the hospital, and very ill, have disabilities," Camp Co-Director Jayne Finkowski-Rivera said. "It's like you can see God touching them. It's a beautiful thing."

The lasting memories, friendships, and impact that Camp Periwinkle has on it's campers is something twins Marabelle and Phoebe Danticat will never forget.

"It's always the highlight of my summer and everyone is always the nicest, especially the councilor's," Marabelle Danticat said. "I just want to say that I love all the friends that I've made over the years and all the counselors I've had," Phoebe Danticat said.

Camp Periwinkle offers children the opportunity to gain back the confidence they've lost in the battle of their lives, with barrier-free activities and medical staff onsite alongside friends with similar challenges. Camp Periwinkle allows patients to worry about the only they should ever have to, just being kids.

"I think what happens a lot of times is they see other campers who have been here before and campers who have gone on to become counselors and camp directors and people involved in administration of everyone who said, hey, they beat it, they did it and he said, that means I can do it," Carlos Rivera said "So that makes them realize that this is not an impossibility. This can happen."

Phoebe said that she hopes to come back to camp one last time next year and in the future so she can be a camp counselor.

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