Millville, Pa. - At Camp Victory, a special camp for special kids, staff and volunteers are hard at work to make the long-awaited return of campers an adventure they will remember and cherish forever.
“Camp Victory is a beautiful 130-acre summer camp in Columbia County that was built specifically for children with special needs and serious health issues,” Kate Stepnick, camp director, explained. “Typically, each week from spring through fall, we have more than 1,500 campers by condition; so for example, there is a week for children with cancer and a week for children with spina bifida.”
Like most every other business and non-profit organization, Camp Victory has had to adapt to many new challenges due to the pandemic.
“Many of our campers are immune-compromised and/or medically fragile, so we have not been able to have campers on-site, but we are working hard to engage them through online activities while we continue to maintain and improve our physical site in anticipation of their return,” Stepnick said.
Upcoming fundraisers include a “5k Fun Run, Walk, Ride, & Roll” for all abilities, a “Golf for Victory” tournament at Eagles Mere Country Club, and “Dr. O’s Ride for Victory” motorcycle run in memory of pediatric nephrologist Dr. Oscar Oberkircher who made a significant impact on developing Camp Victory in the 1990s.
“None of our events can be in-person just yet for everyone’s safety, so the 5k and motorcycle run are on your own time and course, and every participant gets a special event shirt. The golf outing is on a voucher system so players can schedule their own tee time during a specified time period,” Stepnick added.
The majority of campers who attend Camp Victory come from northcentral PA, with Columbia (8.4%), Lycoming (8.2%), Northumberland (6.1%), and Montour Counties (5.8%) having the most campers in attendance.
“What’s really special about Camp Victory, is that here, a camper is just a camper, not defined by their condition as they typically would be elsewhere. Many of our campers spend a lot of time at medical visits, treatments, and therapies,” Stepnick, a past camper herself, concluded.
“Here they can ride the zip line or scale the rock-climbing wall even if they can’t walk, or they use a ventilator," Stepnick continued. "They can be among other kids who understand what their situation is like, having conditions like heart disease or being blind, for example. It’s truly amazing and we greatly appreciate every one of our supporters who make it possible.”