"Camp gives kids an opportunity to normalize their life. To be kids again. It also gives us doctors an opportunity to get to know the children outside of the doctor’s visit we typically have with them in the hospital."
Sitting in Dr. Judith Sato’s office you can see from the wall to wall photos of past patients that her commitment to child oncology runs deep. Talking to her about her involvement with Camp, it’s even more apparent that her life’s work has been transformative for so many young people who have battled with cancer. Dr. Sato started volunteering at Camp in 1983; just a year after Camp was founded. Having been a girl scout as a youth, she identified with the Camp experience and knew first hand just how important it is to the healing process. She also knew that having medical staff on site 24 hours was critical for all of the campers attending Camp, without her and the nurses on site Camp wouldn’t even be possible.
Early on Dr. Sato would attend as many as four summer sessions a year to ensure Camp was medically staffed. Her husband Steve also joined Dr. Sato as a volunteer, having held all volunteer positions from cabin to activity counselor throughout the years. “It was a way for my husband to appreciate what I do and to get to know the patients I treat on a deeper level. Though we wouldn’t see each other during Camp because we were so busy working, volunteering at Camp brought us closer together.”
When asked what Dr. Sato appreciates most about Camp she shares this, “Camp gives kids an opportunity to normalize their life. To be kids again. It also gives us doctors an opportunity to get to know the children outside of the doctor’s visit we typically have with them in the hospital. I especially appreciate when I see a child changed by their Camp experience. When they realize how fortunate they are or when they find the courage to do things they never thought possible. It can be a life changing experience for the campers and the volunteers.”
Dr. Sato not only works as a volunteer doctor every summer for the past 34 years, but she also serves on Camp’s Board of Directors. She was also instrumental in overseeing the establishment of our state of the art medical facility at Camp. She traveled to Russia with a delegation of staff and campers in 1992 to help establish similar Camp’s oversees. She is truly one of Camp’s long standing angels that has provided the leadership and support to help Camp thrive and serve its mission. Seeing patients reciprocate their love for Dr. Sato by asking her to be an integral part of their lives even after treatment is also a testament to how admired and appreciate she is beyond the Camp community. Camp is grateful for super star volunteers like Dr. Sato and we look forward to many more years of her involvement.