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Camp Liberté - where kids are all the same, no matter the skin they’re in

Community Leadership Category - Expert Panel Award

Camp Liberté
  • Lead Dermatologist: Dr. Danielle Marcoux
  • Project team members: Michele Ramien, Kirk Barber
  • Affiliation: Camp Liberté Society, Canada

CAMP LIBERTÉ provides Canadian children with chronic skin conditions an opportunity to enjoy a multi-cultural outdoor summer camp experience in a fun, safe, bilingual environment where they can grow in confidence and self-esteem.

Executive Summary
Camp Liberté is an independent, charitable organization governed by Canadian dermatologists who are committed to ending the stigma of skin disease.
Its mission is to provide Canadian children with chronic skin conditions an opportunity to grow in confidence and self-esteem through a multi-cultural, outdoor camping experience in a fun, safe, bilingual environment.
With camps in the east and west, over 40 children with moderate to severe skin conditions, live the one-week camp experience each year. Expansion plans include the addition of sites and local champions to ensure this life changing experience is available to more children.

The Challenge
The burden of visible skin disorders is significant. Children with visible skin conditions suffer from teasing and discrimination, starting at a young age, which impacts their quality of life. As dermatologists, we are uniquely positioned to increase awareness of skin disorders but also to provide a supportive environment for patients to accept and live well with their skin conditions.
Imagine the case of a young boy with a large port wine stain on his face, whose peers draw his face as a scribble or ask him over and over again, "What is wrong with your face?" Imagine the nervousness he might feel about attending a summer camp, meeting new kids his age, and then having to explain his condition all over again.
Now imagine a camp where everyone has a skin condition, where everyone knows exactly what it's like to have a visible difference.
Camp Liberté is a unique opportunity for children with skin conditions to enjoy a week at camp, free of worry. Whether they suffer from eczema or genetic skin disease, if they have an obvious birthmark or have lost all their hair, at Camp Liberté children are accepted and celebrated for being exactly as they are. Children grow and learn from each other and often leave the camp with friendships that endure.
Parents have noticed that children return from camp better equipped to take an active role in their own treatment, and with a new perception of their skin condition.

Project Details
The target audience for this project is pediatric dermatology patients with moderate to severe skin conditions. The benefits of this program will be felt by their parents and caregivers, healthcare professionals, and the general public.
“Children return from camp better equipped to take an active role in their own treatment, and with a new perception of their skin condition. This, together with the feeling that they are not alone in their experience, leads to a new-found confidence.” Dr. Danielle Marcoux - CLS Founder
Patients must be referred to the Camp by dermatologists. Outreach is done through the Canadian Dermatology Association, Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery (JCMS), The Chronicle and other not-for-profit groups, like Eczema Society of Canada and Debra Canada, to ensure dermatologists and other healthcare providers are aware of the process for referring patients.
Camp Liberté covers the full cost of the camp for all children who attend, ensuring economic factors are not a barrier for families.
Camp Liberté is supported by a small staff, including a part-time fundraiser. A fundraising plan for 2019 is already being created with plans to grow the number of donations from individuals, in order to create long-term sustainability for the Camp. New fundraising tools include direct mail campaigns and sponsorship packages for supporting organizations.
Camp Liberté is currently supported by individual donors, including many dermatologists, and supporting organizations like: LEO Pharma, Toronto Dermatological Society, Eczema Society of Canada, Valeant, Galderma, Celgene, Pfizer, Sanofi Genzyme, with in-kind support from JCMS and The Chronicle.
Camp Liberté works with Easter Seals to offer the camp to children across Canada. In 2018, the Camp Liberté Board of Directors approved plans to expand the Camp to a third Canadian site. Camp Liberté will work closely with Easter Seals to find the right site for our third camp. Our camps must be equipped to meet medical needs of children with a wide variety of skin conditions, from atopic dermatitis to epidermolysis bullosa.

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