General Travels and Meetings

Hand Camp 2023

The St Louis Shriners Hospital began hand camp in 2008 and it has taken place in early autumn each year in Pitosi, Missouri (except during COVID when it was virtual). This year the camp was October 13-15, a bit later than usual and, also, a bit chillier than usual. But the energy and love was as strong as ever!

I really look forward to this weekend for a number of reasons.

  1. It is great to get out of the hospital and see patients and families (including siblings) in a different environment.
  2. It is fun to watch kids and families connect with one another, learn from one another, learn from the junior counselors, and so on…
  3. It’s remarkable to watch the little kids grow up, gain confidence, and often become junior counselors who inspire parents and younger kids. Really, this is an amazing circle.
  4. I tend to bring a few of our residents and fellows for the day and it is a wonderful experience for them for so many reasons. It is a great reminder of why we chose a career in medicine and the impact that we can have on kids and families!

While I enjoy seeing everyone and wandering through the different activities, my favorite events are the group sessions. This year we attended the parent group. It is a (gently) facilitated group discussion on really anything. We begin with brief introductions and then someone raises an issue and other parents chime in (I tend to stay quiet and just listen). It was a great session as always with so many amazing comments. Two stood out.

  1. One family was back for a second year. They shared that last year they went to hand camp and to Disney. And, hand camp was the “better” vacation and everyone was so excited to come back for the meaningful and fun weekend. WOW! This is high praise.
  2. Another comment also rang true. One parent noted that he doesn’t consider his child disabled (or differently abled- we had a good conversation around this topic) and he (and most) has allowed his child to figure things out (which he always does). But, he realized that hand camp was an amazing opportunity for his son because of all the similar kids and families. It was empowering and important for his son and for the whole family. His son is ‘different’ and is completely ‘able’ and there is immense value in the hand camp experience given the experience with so many other similar kids.
The kids at hand camp!
Amazing climbing wall experience


  1. It’s so good to be associated with a group that cares so much about these kids. I can’t imagine the struggles that all involved go through on a daily basis. They all are an inspiration.

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