Blog post

Finding Community at Camden

Children with kidney disease make connections at AKF's Camden Yards Picnic
A group of adults and children in Camden Yards Stadium

Toasty temperatures and threatening skies were no match for the American Kidney Fund's first camp picnic at Camden Yards, which was held July 16 for children with kidney disease and their families.

About 200 people including pediatric patients at Johns Hopkins Children's Center who previously have participated in Camp All Stars, gathered together in person for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rain held off, and families enjoyed music, food, and arts and craft stations at the storied Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles.

Family with three adults and three children who are holding balloon animals
A Black woman and her son dancing
Three children in Camden Yards Stadium holding up their artwork

Kids made their own slime, picture frames and flowerpots and munched on burgers, hot dogs, pretzels, fruit cups and cookies. They had their caricatures drawn, received silly balloon creations and made magnetic tile art. And of course, this gathering of Camp All Stars kids would not have been complete without dancing — our DJ was only too happy to play crowd favorites. With the Oriole Bird joining in the ballpark  boogieing, kids, parents and staff from Johns Hopkins (and some AKF staff) had the opportunity to cha-cha and wobble and create some special memories.

The AKF team was thrilled to be able to provide an in-person experience for this special group. Children with kidney disease often feel isolated and face many challenges due to the life-altering nature of their condition, and research has shown there is a higher prevalence of depression in children with kidney disease. The pandemic has only exacerbated the isolation these children experience, so Saturday's camp picnic gave families as well as staff at Johns Hopkins the chance to have fun and form connections in a setting other than a doctor's office.

It is estimated that each year, 1 in 65,000 children in the United States have kidney failure, which can only be treated by dialysis or transplantation.

AKF's work with youth affected by kidney disease will continue this summer with the kickoff of its first national virtual camp involving at least four hospitals nationwide.

AKF thanks the Robert I. Schattner Foundation for its continuing support of Camp All Stars and the 2022 Camden Yards Camp Picnic.


Nancy Gregory

Nancy Gregory is the senior director of communications at the American Kidney Fund.