Originally posted by KSTP on August 17, 2019

More than 100 kids are enjoying a special opportunity in Eden Prairie, attending a free camp called Camp Angel.

The camp put on by the non-profit Angel Foundation and hosted at Camp Eden Wood, is for children 6-18 years old who have a parent or grandparent battling cancer.

The kids spend Friday through Sunday participating in activities ranging from silly to serious. These include standard camp activities such as water balloon fights, sports and crafts, but also features “medical play,” which involves simulations with dolls undergoing medical procedures.

“There’s so many kids who keep all the emotions inside and feel like nobody understands what their parent is going through, so providing them an outlet to come here and feel safe to connect with those other kids is our main focus,” said Camp Director Emily Rezac.

The counselors at Camp Angel, who are called “teen mentors,” all previously attended the camp and can relate to how difficult it is to watch a loved one battle cancer. Jaron Magstadt of Spring Lake Park started coming to the camp at the age of 11, shortly after his father was diagnosed with stage-four Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He says coming back as a mentor is now the highlight of his summer.

“We just make the kids feel as comfortable as possible so that we can set up for having a vulnerable environment so we can really process what’s going on,” Magstadt said.

Six years later, his dad is now in full remission and he’s grateful to be able to give back to the organization that helped him through such a tough time in his life.

“It was just such an empowering experience but also kind of set me up from then on with the tools they gave us and also the relationships we were able to build,” explained Magstadt. “The kids here can go home feeling more comfortable, having a toolkit and having us as a backbone of support.”