Camp Oasis: Life-Changing Experience for Children with Crohn's & Colitis

Importance of camp stressed by actor Benjamin King of Disney Channel's Liv and Maddie

Jan 13, 2016, 12:23 ET from Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America

NEW YORK, Jan. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For more than 11 million children and adults, summer camp provides an escape from every day life- a chance to enjoy the outdoors, meet new people, and participate in fun and exciting activities. For 23-year-old Jessica Heirtzler, summer camp has provided her with much more than a week away from home- camp saved her life.

Heirtzler was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when she was 8-years-old. For years, she lived with constant debilitating pain, doctor's appointments, medications, and emotional issues. It wasn't until she first attended Camp Oasis as a high school junior that she felt like herself.

"Camp saved my life. It was the first time in my life that I didn't have to hide who I truly was," Heirtzler said. "Everyone at camp- both campers and volunteers- taught me that Crohn's isn't who I am, but it is a part of me and I should embrace it. Camp Oasis helped me grow into a confident woman who accepts and loves herself for exactly who she is. I am now completely open about having Crohn's disease and I have Camp Oasis to thank for that."

Applications open today for Camp Oasis's 2016 summer sessions. Camp Oasis is the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) summer camp program that enriches the lives of children with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis by providing them with a safe and supportive camp community. CCFA runs 12 week-long camp sessions across the country, attracting not only campers but also hundreds of volunteer counselors and medical professionals. CCFA underwrites 65 percent of the cost of camp attendance, and scholarships are available for campers-in-need.

Disney Channel Liv and Maddie actor Benjamin King, a Crohn's disease patient, stresses the importance of having an outlet like Camp Oasis for children with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis to come together.

"Dealing with Crohn's as an adult, I know how difficult it can be to cope with this disease. I can't imagine how hard it must be for children to live with the debilitating pain and uncertainty Crohn's and ulcerative colitis can cause," King said. "As a father, I've seen firsthand the benefits that summer camp has on children. The existence of Camp Oasis to give children with Crohn's and colitis a safe environment to come together and bond over a shared experience is tremendous."

Below is a list of Camp Oasis's 2016 summer sessions. Click here for more information about Camp Oasis.

Camp Oasis of California
Session Dates: Monday, June 20th - Saturday, June 25th
Host Site: Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times - Mountain Center, CA

Camp Oasis of Colorado
Session Dates: Sunday, July 10th - Friday, July 15th
Host Site: YMCA Camp Shady Brook - Deckers, CO

Camp Oasis of Georgia
Session Dates: Sunday, June 19th - Friday, June 24th
Host Site: Camp Will-A-Way - Winder, GA

Camp Oasis of Michigan
Session Dates: Sunday, July 10th - Saturday, July 16th
Host Site: YMCA Camp Copneconic - Fenton, MI

Camp Oasis of Minnesota
Session Dates: Monday, July 25th - Saturday, July 30th
Host Site:  One Heartland - Willow River, MN

Camp Oasis of Missouri
Session Dates: Sunday, August 7th - Sunday August 11th
Host Site:  YMCA Camp Lakewood - Potosi, MO

Camp Oasis of New York
Session Dates: Tuesday, August 16th - Sunday, August 21st
Host Site:  Camp Scatico - Elizaville, NY

Camp Oasis of Pennsylvania
Session Dates: Monday, August 15th - Saturday, August 20th
Host Site:  Camp Nock-A-Mixon - Kintnersville, PA

Camp Oasis of Texas
Session Dates: Saturday, August 13th - Wednesday, August 17th
Host Site: URJ Greene Family Camp - Bruceville, TX

Camp Oasis of Washington
Session Dates: Sunday, June 26th - Saturday, July 2nd
Host Site:  YMCA Camp Colman - Longbranch, WA

Camp Oasis of Wisconsin
Session Dates: Sunday, August 14th - Friday, August 19th
Host Site: Lutherdale Ministries - Elkhorn, WI

Camp Oasis of West Virginia
Session Dates: Tuesday, June 21st - Saturday, June 25th
Host Site: Camp Tall Timbers - High View, WV

About Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis affects 1 in 200 people.  They are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever and weight loss. Many patients require numerous hospitalizations and surgery.  Most people develop the diseases between the ages of 15 and 35; however the incidence is increasing in children.

About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). CCFA's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit, call 888-694-8872, or email


SOURCE Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America