Camp Jambalaya Jubilee: Our Signature Program

Camp Jambalaya Jubilee is a southern regional annual retreat for families with children suffering from rheumatoid diseases, held for a weekend each summer in Shreveport, Louisiana.

GOAL
The goal at camp is to empower families through education, encouragement and enjoyment, to help them alleviate the frustrations of managing a chronic rheumatic illness. Children, siblings and parents are all encouraged to attend!

ACTIVITIES
During the day, the children participate in camp activities while the adults attend sessions with physicians and family therapists. In the evenings, families enjoy recreation time together, building bonds and strengthening much-needed support systems.

COSTS
Camp fees are only $10/child and$20/family for the entire weekend. Children and Arthritis, Inc. is able to offer camp at these low fees thanks to the generosity of Willis-Knighton Health Systems, Murphy-Payne Charitable Trust, Beaird Foundation, St. Mark’s Episcopal, and a host of other corporate, church, individual and foundation donors.

LEADERSHIP
The program is led by Dr. Thomas Pressly, a Shreveport rheumatologist, who has been working with children suffering from rheumatic diseases for over 25 years.  He runs a clinic at Shriner’s Hospital and uses his personal experience in treating these children to develop the camp programs. Dr. Pressly works closely with Dr. George Wolcott, a licensed family therapist in Shreveport, in building and evolving the program.

Jambalaya Jubilee attracts some of the nation’s leading rheumatologists to consult with patients and their families. There is a large contingent of other physicians, counselors, therapists and volunteers.

PARTICIPANTS
Families from seven states, primarily Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas, attend camp. Attendees are children under the age of 18 who suffer from rheumatic diseases, their siblings, and their parents or guardians. Camp Jambalaya Jubilee is unique in its ability to offer a camp atmosphere for the diagnosed child while simultaneously including all siblings, educating caregivers, and providing recreational opportunities for families.

LOCATION
Camp Jambalaya Jubilee has been held in the southern region for 28 years and at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, since 1994.

RESULTS
Many families return to camp year after year, learning from the experts and counselors as well as from one another. Special relationships are formed between individuals, families, and children who feel less isolated among peers in similar circumstances.

Below are the ways in which Children and Arthritis, Inc. organizes Camp Jambalaya Jubilee to achieve our goals:

Education:  Camp Jambalaya Jubilee’s adult small group meetings provide families with access to top pediatric rheumatologists from around the country, dentists, orthopedic surgeons, ENTs, nephrologists, cardiologists, hand surgeons, ophthalmologists, nurses, family therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists.  Parents learn about new research and medications, how to watch for signs and symptoms, and ways to work with the school system.

Encouragement:  Camp Jambalaya Jubilee’s small group counseling sessions give families the opportunity to talk with family therapists and address underlying issues, such as marital strife, siblings having feelings of neglect, or fears regarding the illness. These sessions have proven invaluable to fostering connections between families and healing strained relationships.

Enjoyment:  Camp Jambalaya Jubilee’s camp program for children includes a number of special needs accessible activities such as bowling, swimming, games, and arts and crafts. Because all children are able to participate in every activity, they experience a sense of normalcy, maybe for the first time. The children are divided up into age groups and experience camp both on and off campus. Parents report that children look forward to camp each year with great anticipation.