Our Mission & Traditions
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta provides challenging, extraordinary experiences in a safe and loving environment for children who have or have had cancer and their families. Camp exists for Vermont and Northern New York children. (including other out-of-state children who are treated in Vermont), between the ages 7-17, at no cost to their families.
Founded in 1984, Camp Ta-Kum-Ta was established through the efforts of Ted and Debby Kessler to recreate the mind and body healing experiences their son Todd, had received at a cancer camp in New York State.
At the very beginning Camp was just a great idea without a name. While in the Pediatric Oncology Unit at the hospital discussing the possibility of a camp where “kids with cancer” can just be “kids”, one of the children still too young to attend exclaimed in frustration “but I want a camp to come ta!”. The name was perfect, and eventually she did get her “Camp Ta-Kum-Ta”. Today, she is one of the many survivors volunteering on staff!
Each year Camp Ta-Kum-Ta tries to squeeze in as many life experiences and memories as possible into one magical week. Along with traditional camp activities such as swimming, athletics, ropes course, and arts & crafts, Ta-Kum-Ta offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities such as rock climbing expeditions, hot-air balloon rides, formal dances, and lake cruises.
For 24 years Camp Ta-Kum-Ta took place in August at Camp Holy Cross on the shores of Malletts Bay, Lake Champlain in Colchester, Vermont. In early 2008 the T-K-T Board of Directors learned that the facility would no longer be made available as a campsite. A search began for a new, permanent home. In August of 2008, it was announced that Camp Ta-Kum-Ta would move to the former Willey Farm in the Town of South Hero, Vermont in the Lake Champlain Islands. There, a new camp is being built from scratch.
Although told by many that Vermont just wasn’t big enough to sustain such a camp, Ted and Debby went ahead with it anyway. Thanks to the support of the community, some 120 staff volunteers, and leadership from a seven member Board of Directors, Camp Ta-Kum-Ta has expanded from its one week summer camp to offering programs year round.
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is an independent 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Our programs and services are financed completely through private donations and fund raising. Because of your support and a terrific volunteer staff, Ta-Kum-Ta accepts all of its children tuition-free.
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is a proud member of COCA-I (Children’s Oncology Camping Association, International). Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is a Gold Ribbon Award Member of COCA-I, an organization whose mission is to strengthen the international community of camps for children with cancer and their families through networking, advocacy, and education.
What does a Gold Ribbon Award mean?
COCA-I examines Camp Ta-Kum-Ta’s rules, regulations, requirements, guidelines and common practices. The “Suggested COCA-I Guidelines” is an important resource to COCA-I members and following these guidelines are rewarded with a Gold Ribbon. These “Suggested COCA-I Guidelines” are being presented as a completely voluntary set of recommended oncology camp standards.
COCA-I meets annually at a conference hosted by a member camp.
For more information visit: www.cocai.org