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Columbia County camp encourages children with cancer

A camper climbs the rock wall at Camp Dost on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

This week some very special kids from across the area are spending time at a different type of camp in Columbia County.

"It's changed my life in many ways by giving me more friends, by making me accept that I actually had cancer, and that cancer wasn't a terrible thing that happened to me,” Hannah Freezer, from Muncy, Lycoming County, said.

Freezer started coming to Camp Dost in 2011 after she was diagnosed with ALL leukemia.

"I got more of a severe case of it, and just the doctors and nurses in the in the hospital told me so many good things about Camp Dost. So, I decided my first year that I would come and see would it would be,” she added.

Hannah immediately fell in love with it.

As they say, the rest is history.

"I look forward to hanging out with my friends, going swimming, and going on the zip line,” Freezer said.

Since 1983, the Danville Ronald McDonald House has sponsored Camp Dost.

It's the first summer camp in P-A designed especially for children dealing with cancer.

"Every day they're told no, they can't do this, they can't do that. They have to stay in the hospital, they have to go to doctors’ appointments and visits. And by being able to come to summer camp and have an amazing time, we're giving them that childhood back that they're missing out on,” Devon Gulick, Camp Dost director, said.

In addition to campers from 25 counties here in Pennsylvania, Camp Dost also hosts about a dozen kids from New York State."

The kids can do everything from archery, rock climbing, swimming, or just strolling around the facility.

For Hannah and many others, it's a chance to connect with those who've been through similar life experiences.

"You hear each other’s stories and hear that maybe someone's gone through it more difficult than you have. But then you get to connect through different kinds of things like, 'oh, yeah, hey I went through that. Oh yeah I hated that too, I didn't like that whatsoever,’” Freezer said.

Hannah says after high-school she plans to go to college to study nursing, eventually become an R-N working with pediatric cancer patients.

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