BURTON, TEXAS - When you see the smiles on the faces of the kids at Camp Star Trails, you'd never know they are all fighting cancer.
The camp in Burton, Texas, is a safe haven for patients to have fun and forget about their problems for a few days.
The campers enjoy traditional activities like water sports, horseback riding and archery. There's also a rock climbing station and a petting zoo with a tortoise, prairie dogs and even a boa constrictor!
The Camp Star Trails layout was designed with a "no-barriers" concept, making every activity accessible to all camp.
It provides a place for campers to bond and make friends who can relate to their challenges.
"I met my best friend here because our moms became friends through Camp Star Trails," said 8-year-old Ava. She said the "camp has made [her] feel like she belongs somewhere."
Camp Star Trails also allows the siblings of the patients to stay at camp with them but parents aren't included.
Instead, campers are supervised by camp counselors like Kierra, a cancer survivor.
"I was a camper here for five years and have formed a special bond with this place," Kierra said. "I look forward to camp every year---this is my Disney World."
The camp even inspired Kierra's career choice.
"I have decided to pursue a degree to become a special therapist for children combating an illness," she said.
The positive energy at camp is so prevalent, it is contagious. The patients get support from counselors and from each other.
The open communication lets campers express feelings and emotions that could only be understood by other patients.
"At first I didn't think camp would be fun, but it really is," Obie said. "This place can make you happy even at your lowest."
Obie is now a cancer survivor and aspires to one day become a camp counselor.
When asked if there was a special message he would like to send out to people it was this: "if you are dealing with cancer---come to camp. You are not alone."
Doctors from MD Anderson set up shop at Camp Star Trails to make sure the campers are getting the medical care they need. The kids also take plenty of breaks from the heat and humidity in between enjoying all of the outdoor activities.
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