Meet the Camp Activities Director

Nothing can compensate for the anguish that childhood cancer inflicts, but Camp COCO is an organization that tries to make a difference. Since founded by the SIU Department of Pediatrics in 1986, Camp COCO has helped thousands of children and their parents recapture hope, enthusiasm, self confidence and love of life in a medically safe environment created especially for them at camp. 

A cancer diagnosis brings with it a terrifying interruption of childhood. Our programming is designed to help our campers overcome the physical, mental and emotional barriers posed by cancer. Campers find friends and staff who understand their special experiences, concerns and dreams. They experience a sense of freedom and possibility in the great outdoors and grow stronger and healthier each day.

Campers serve as role models for one another and begin to see themselves, often for the first time, not as victims, but as strong and capable leaders. Among the most special experiences at camp are the relationships that develop between children in active treatment and those who have already journeyed through the treatment experience. The ability of one child to tell another, “Oh, I had that and I’m fine now,” is a special gift one camper can give to another. That is what makes camp such a magical place.

Bet Spence, Camp COCO Activities Director