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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Camp Reynal

Camp Reynal, a one-week summer camp designed to help children and youth with renal and urological disease grow in their self-esteem and strengths, is looking for Aggie volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of campers.
Camp Reynal was started in 1992 by the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas. The members of the foundation wanted to provide a summer camp that all children could attend and enjoy without worries of medical care. The foundation selected Camp John Marc, a then-newly constructed camp outside of Meridian, Texas, as the site for its idea: a camp that provided medical attention and camp activities to children affected by renal and urological disease.
Jeremy Ament was one of the first 20 children who attended Camp Reynal in summer 1992. He serves on the Camp Reynal Planning Committee as counselor recruiter and said he values the time he spent at the camp 16 years ago.
“Camp John Marc is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating camps where all kids can just be kids,” Ament said. “Through camps specially designed to fill their needs, children who are physically impaired or are chronically or terminally ill can experience the joy and fulfillment of participating in normal camp activities.”
As a non-profit organization, the camp depends on support from the foundation and donors to offer the services of the camp free to the campers. The camp relies on the volunteer time of the doctor and nurse staff. Staff members assist with the care and treatment of campers in their stages of disease, and camp counselors ensure that campers enjoy the simple pleasures that come with summer camp.
Brian Y’Barbo, Class of 2007, said he first heard about the camp through an Aggie Doctors listserv as an opportunity to help children with medical needs. Four years later, Y’Barbo values his decision to join the volunteer staff as a decision that brought satisfaction to himself and the campers he served.
“During that semester [before camp], I started to feel a little empty,” said Y’Barbo, who had been active in high school as a Peer Assistant Leaders member, but had not found time to volunteer in college.
“This camp presented me with a solution by allowing me to help without conflicting with school.”
All volunteers at Camp Reynal are required to complete an application process and one-day training program prior to the start of camp. Volunteers are given instructions about renal and urological disease; however, their experiences during the week are much like the ones at any other summer camp.
“Their disabilities can be quite apparent at first, but after a day or so, those perceptions disappear and you realize that they are normal kids,” Y’Barbo said. “The usual challenges that a Camp Reynal counselor would face are the same that most camp counselors face.”
The challenges may be the same, but volunteers involved say that the rewards are much more substantial.
“I am very proud to have been involved with Camp Reynal since its beginning in 1992,” Ament said. “The most rewarding thing about being with Camp Reynal is the ability to share my personal experiences with kidney disease and dialysis, and all that comes with it with the kids that come to camp.”
“This camp is probably one of the best weeks of the year for me,” Y’Barbo said. “It is such a rewarding week, that I come back from it feeling like I have just taken an amazing vacation.”

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