From the hospital to overnight camp//A lifesaver during a tough time

kaley standing at the dock at camp holding a fish she caught

Six-year-old Kaley met Campfire Circle’s team on the day she was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Cancer was just the beginning of Kaley’s challenging health journey. It was in December 2019 when she began treatment at SickKids, and their lives were about to change dramatically.

“That was a tough time,” says her mom, Kamla. “But thanks to Campfire Circle I would get a 20- or 40-minute break when I needed it. They were a lifesaver for me. Because Kaley enjoyed being with the Campfire Circle staff playing games or making slime, I felt safe leaving her.”

kaley lying in the leaves at camp

After 10 months of intense treatment and radiation, Kaley developed severe side effects to her treatment protocol, which caused damage to her cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for muscle control and motor skills. Kaley lost the ability to walk and move almost completely.

“The only thing she could still do was chew her food,” says Kamla.

Kaley was then admitted to Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation Hospital for two and a half months of rehabilitation so she could re-learn how to move independently.

kaley and her family sit for a picture in front of the lake at camp

But even when she was very sick, Kaley loved participating in the virtual Campfire Circle programs and connecting with the In-Hospital Program Specialists and new friends. As she regained function, her family participated in weekend camp programs at Campfire Circle’s Rainbow Lake site in Norfolk County and attended Campfire Circle group tent camping trips.

This summer, Kaley went to overnight camp by herself at Campfire Circle Muskoka. “She loved being on her own for the first time with her friends and feeling safe at the same time,” says Kamla. Kaley has two older brothers who hope to go to sibling camp next year.

Skip to content