Lurie Children’s Hospital patients experience summer camp inside the hospital

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Arts and crafts, exploring, sounds like a summer camp. But for sick kids, it's not an option. So one local hospital came up with a solution -- bringing the outdoors in and making inpatients happy campers.

"I’ve mostly been watching movies. Most of the time I didn’t want to walk around too much because it made me tired," said Manuela, a Lurie Children's patient.

Not today. Manuela is at Bug Camp but she hasn't left the hospital yet.

"Today I made a little butterfly, and I’m making a dragonfly. I’m having a lot of fun right now," said Manuela.

"Part of our goal of summer camp was to bring a little bit of nature from the outside to the inside for the kids," said Pat Ebervein, Lurie Children's school services coordinator.

"I’ve found in my experience working with kids, science is just such a powerful hook. Just giving kids a bug or sea urchin, all of a sudden they have a thousand questions," said Amanda Smith, museum educator at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

That's the idea behind a new summer program at Lurie Chilren's Hospital. For patients stuck inside, camp comes to them.

"Seeing this big sort of centipede, I could say, like a worm, but it spanned the entire cage. It was really long and cool," Manuela.

"These are bugs that you could see outside in Chicago, but they don’t necessarily get to go outside and see them. So to be able to bring a little local ecology in and give them that close personal time, I’m very thankful for being able to do that," said Smith.

Educators from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum taught the campers about spiders, worms, praying mantis and even giant cockroaches.

"What do you think? Can you see him? Those are really big! They are called Madagascar hissing cockroaches," Smith explained to the kids.

But for 8-year-old Baruc, one creature in particular stood out.

"I gotta say, the one that eats raw fruit," said Baruc.

It's not the campers' first visit from a few outside guests. Shedd Aquarium trainers brought penguins to camp earlier this summer.

"The kids are really enjoying it. A nice distraction," said Ebervein.

For patients too sick to attend camp in the hospital's Child Life Center, volunteers bring the activities right to their bedside.

This is the first year the program has been offered and it's been a big hit. Camp will likely return next summer.

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