Cancer patients and survivors attend Camp Bluebird

Cancer patients and survivors attend Camp Bluebird

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Dozens of cancer survivors and patients are spending the weekend outdoors at Camp Bluebird.

Camp Bluebird was the first camp for adult cancer patients and survivors in Mississippi.  In its 28th year, this year's theme is "There's no place like Bluebird."

Faye Johnson, a three-year cancer survivor, said the weekend has been a blessing.

"It blesses my soul, because I'm here with people just like me," said Johnson.  "It can come back, so when you get here, you forget about everything."

This two and one-half day camp is held at Paul B. Johnson State Park and includes recreational activities, social events, devotional and educational opportunities designed to minister to the whole person with fun and fellowship.

Barbara Ford, a two-time breast cancer survivor, attended her first Camp Bluebird in 2006.  She has been a camp counselor ever since.

"This is Camp Bluebird, the most wonderful weekend for anyone who has ever had cancer," said Ford.  "I learned that you have to be able to turn off, to be thinking cancer all the time. But, you also need the support and the comradery of others that have gone that path."

The purpose of the camp is to promote a sense of well-being among campers, teach them how to live with cancer and cancer treatments and to provide a time of rest and relaxation. Camp Bluebird is staffed completely by volunteers, counselors, and healthcare personnel.

This year, there are 70 campers and 50 counselors.  Director Joe Marcello said the camp has grown every year.

"Let me mimic it to a treatment. This is an enjoyable treatment," said Marcello.  "You're not getting chemo, you're not getting radiation. You're having fun, you're eating good food and mingling with people. Dancing, doing arts and crafts, enjoying the beautiful weather and the beautiful park."

Marcello said there is a $35 tuition fee for campers, but if there is a camper who wants to attend and can't afford, he is able to fund it.

"I was first diagnosed in 2005, I had a brother to die in 2008 with cancer, my husband got cancer in 2012 and then I got it again in 2014," said Ford.  "We're still strong, thriving people. It's a horrible thing to go through, but you can do it."

For more information on Camp Bluebird, contact Joe Marcello, oncology service line administrator at Forrest General, at 601-288-1611 or