Camp Boggy Creek: A free escape in Central Florida for kids with serious illnesses

EUSTIS, Fla. — For children diagnosed with a serious illness, every-day life can be challenging.


Since 1996, a local camp has offered those kids an escape from the challenges they face, and it’s completely free.

At Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, their mission is to give kids with special needs a dose of normalcy.

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“Diagnoses like Cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, sickle cell, there’s a long list of diagnosis groups that we’ve been serving for a long time,” Camp Boggy Creek President and CEO Dan Jurman said.

Whether in a wheelchair or undergoing treatment for cancer, Camp Boggy Creek offers an escape from the hardships of life.

“From swimming, boating and fishing, archery, camp fires with s’mores…everything is wheelchair accessible,” Jurman said. “We have adaptive equipment so that even a child who’s missing a limb can participate in archery or miniature golf.”

The camp has been running off of donations for 26-years, so campers and their families don’t pay a dime.

Recently, for the first time, Camp Boggy Creek expanded its services to children suffering a mental health trauma following last year’s hurricanes.

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“Families who thought the rest of their household had died until they got to the shelter and found them there…people floating on debris in the midst of the hurricane. How terrifying that is. It’s hard to imagine unless you’ve been through that,” Jurman said.

The camp is just like any other: parents drop their kids off and counselors take over. However, Camp Boggy Creek’s counselors are specially-trained and hired with empathy in mind.

The camp even has an emergency room and employs a physician, a pediatrician and a nurse manager. There are also medical volunteers on-hand based on the camp group’s needs.

“For instance, when we have children who are at camp with heart disease, we have cardiologists and nurses with cardiology experience all volunteering to wrap around those kids,” Jurman explained. “And we make sure that those volunteers aren’t wearing white coats and stethoscopes. They should blend in and have fun at camp, but they’re here in case of emergency.”

Thus providing a safe space for children who otherwise may not get the chance to live life with freedom and independence.

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“They can just be kids,” Jurman said. “They can have these adventures and do things that maybe they didn’t feel they could do while they were still at home and fighting that diagnosis.”

For information on how to help support Camp Boggy Creek, click here.

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