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Being around so many caring, hope-filled, and optimistic people reminded me of something I learned long ago. There are no hopeless situations—only people who grow hopeless from lack of understanding, information, and tools.”  Camp Hope attendee.

Hope. Optimism. Caring.

Three simple words that hold a powerful message for the cancer survivors, their support persons, and children who attend the Cancer Treatment Center’s annual Camp Hope weekend.

Held at Trails West YMCA Camp in Scottsbluff, Camp Hope is a three-day, two-night camp set in the serene surroundings of the North Platte River and overlooking Scotts Bluff National Monument. Campers can relax and benefit from the compassionate support of health care providers, family, and friends while participating in a variety of activities.

Camp Hope is funded through the Regional West Foundation and is offered at no cost to attendees. Participants enjoy all meals and the lodging at on-site cabins as part of the Camp Hope experience.

Camp counselors include Regional West physicians, nurses, therapists, clergy, counselors, pharmacists, social workers, associates, and volunteers. Cancer survivors, their support persons, and their families are invited to attend. During its 16-year existence, each year has brought growth and rewards to the cancer survivors, their support systems, and the professional staff who provide the program.

Camp Hope provides an opportunity for cancer survivors to explore the hopeful side of cancer while providing a vacation from everyday stress and worry. Participants attend group sessions to learn skills for coping with cancer and its after-effects, while enhancing their quality of life. The program incorporates a holistic approach by including sessions that address issues of the mind, body, and spirit.

Support persons—families and friends of cancer survivors—as well as children also benefit from the Camp Hope experience. “Because support persons are usually focused on helping their loved ones, they don’t concentrate enough on their own needs,” said one camper. As a support system for the support person, Camp Hope provides several separate programs and sessions throughout the weekend for support persons only. After all, said the camper, “It’s scary watching someone you love battle cancer—they need time to heal too.” The program recently expanded to involve children whose lives are affected by cancer—survivors, siblings, and children whose parents have cancer. 

“Camp Hope is a time of support and sharing. It really is a great weekend for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer,” said Carol Diffendaffer, CSW, OSW-C, Cancer Treatment Center social worker and Camp Hope’s director. “Campers enjoy a weekend of sharing, learning, fun, entertainment, and relaxation. It’s a wonderful bonding experience for survivors and their families.”

“Being able to interact with physicians and other people surrounding the program in a casual, relaxed atmosphere is a wonderful bonus,” concluded another camp attendee. “It’s nice getting to know them as people instead of just as health care providers.”

For more information about Camp Hope, contact Carol Diffendaffer at 308-630-1535 or email her at

“Some experiences carry a price tag. Camp Hope is priceless!” Carol Diffendaffer, Camp Hope Director.