COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA — Camp CoHoLo is continuing camp activities for children dealing with cancer or blood diseases this summer, but with one big twist.
Camping is all kids can dream of for weeks leading up to the big event. 10-year-old Payton Forsythe would know best.
"Camp is just under Christmas and her birthday in lines of important days in her year," her mother Amy Forsythe said with a laugh.
Every summer Payton attends Camp CoHoLo - standing for courage, hope and love run by the Children's Hospital and Nebraska Medical Center. This camp is specifically curated for children with severe illnesses.
When Payton was just four years old, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder that develops as a result of bone marrow damage.
Looking forward to Camp CoHoLo for Payton is an understatement. Her dress for the big end-of-camp dance is already picked out.
"It's not too long but it's not too short and it has short sleeves so you won't get too hot," she said as she demonstrated her polka dot dress.
But the pandemic doesn't allow for vulnerable children to meet in person. So this year camp is a little different.
"So this year we're doing it all virtually," assistant camp director Sarah Jezewski said.
Campers receive a box of materials for the virtual camp filled with things like paint and paintbrushes. All the activities are then done together through Zoom.
"So to have her have that same kind of experience even though we're doing it at home and she's sitting at the kitchen table, it's still nice," Payton's mom said.
Doing all the camp activities through a screen doesn't bother Payton.
"Most of us did school online so I mean we kind of got used to it," she said.
Especially because she'll still have the chance to wear her polka dot dress to the end-of-camp dance that will of course, be virtual.