Summer camp provides relief to kids with cancer

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MARTINSVILLE--Each year 344 children in Indiana are diagnosed with cancer, and every summer a handful of those children pack their bags for some outdoorsy fun at Camp Little Red Door.

The camp is at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, and for the kids it's a refuge from the battle they're fighting--and hopefully surviving.

One camper is 11-year-old Maria Bennett, who was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2012.

"When I found out I had cancer, I had heard that word, but I really never really knew what it meant," she said. "Once it gradually got worse, I started to get a little worried because I knew it could kill me and I knew that I might not see the next day, so it was hard.

The conversation about cancer is a central focus at Camp Little Red Door where each camper has their own story to share. 18-year old Ciara Little began her fight with the disease at age nine and started coming to camp several years later.

"It's pretty intense to look back and think about it. It doesn't even seem like I went through that because it seems like a nightmare," she said.

In a matter of four years Ciara has graduated from camper to camp leader.

"I tell them not to focus on having cancer. I tell them to focus on having fun," she said.

Because she's 18 years old, this will be Ciara's last summer at Camp Little Red Door. While reflecting on her battle, she spoke with a smile.

"It's definitely made me stronger as a deal with it and come back and be like 'here I am...I'm going to start new," she said.

It's a camp that unites children with totally different backgrounds, but at the same time share a similar and unbreakable bond.

"It feels good because you can vent to your parents about all the problems you have, but at the same time they can't really relate to you. They have different problems because they have the child with leukemia, they aren't the child with leukemia," said Maria.

For Maria, this year at camp is a celebration--a celebration of survival.

"I only have two weeks left until I'm done with chemotherapy," she said.

Camp Little Red Door accepts children ages 8-18. For more information on how to sign your child up, click here.