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Camp Silver Moon provides space for children with sickle cell disease to thrive

Jun 11, 2024

By Nico Pennisi (WRTV) INDIANAPOLIS — School is out in Central Indiana and many kids are heading to summer camp in the next few weeks. But a traditional camp environment may not be a good fit for children with certain medical conditions. Camp Silver Moon in North Webster is providing a space for some of them to thrive — regardless of their health. Campers there either live with or have a sibling who lives with sickle cell disease.

Camp Silver Moon

“Sickle cell has motivated me to overcome things… I let that motive me and challenge me to push myself forward and reach for success,” camper John Joseph said. The 16-year-old goes to Decatur Central High School. His senior year is fast approaching.

John Joseph

“Getting the hang of things in my last year of high school. Enjoying all the memories I created,” Joseph said. After high school, he plans to attend at IU Bloomington and eventually become a pediatrician. “I wanna help the kids around the world. Especially the children that has the same issue I have,” Joseph said. Joseph is one of the estimated 1700 Hoosiers living with sickle cell, a life-threatening condition, most commonly seen in African American, Hispanic/Latino, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities.

He’s limited in what physical activity he can do, so, for a long time, he thought summer camp was not in the cards for him.

He says that’s until he found Camp Silver Moon.

Camp Silver Moon

Campers enjoy all the traditional camp activities — canoeing, kayaking, climbing, fishing, zip lining — you name it! The only difference is they’re surrounded by other kids going through something similar. “There’s a lot of kids that don’t know another kid with sickle cell disease and so to be able to go to a camp and say ‘hey, you have this. I have this too. You take this medicine. I take this medicine too,” Kimber Blackwell, physician assistant at the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center and the Director of Camp Silver Moon, said.

Camp Silver Moon

That’s true for Joseph, who met his close friend and fellow camper Toby in 2019. “A couple blocks down, I have a friend that I’ve had for a couple of years now. He goes to camp. He has the same thing as me,” Joseph said. “Ever since then we just clicked.”

John Joseph at a Track & Field meet

Camp is happening until June 14. It’s open to kids ages 7-16. Families in Indiana interested in participating should contact their Sickle SAFE coordinator.

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