Kids Explore Potential at Camp Winning Hands


Young boy doing a ropes course

For the 9th year in a row, the orthopaedic team at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California gave kids with hand differences an opportunity to make new friends, gain new confidence, and have a lot of fun at Camp Winning Hands. The overnight summer camp is organized by Shriners Hospital in partnership with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. It is hosted by The Taylor Family Foundation at Camp Arroyo in Livermore, Calif.

Established in 2010, the purpose of Camp Winning Hands is to give children living without the benefit of two fully functional hands a chance to explore their potential in a safe and supportive setting. Campers began arriving on August 3, for three days of organized activities that included wall climbing, dancing, arts and crafts and more.

Janice Conroy, R.N., a nurse for the hand team at the Northern California Shriners Hospital, serves as assistant director for the camp. She has had her hand in designing a positive and memorable experience for patients and families for many years.

“Seeing the joy these kids experience inspires us to do more each year. The feedback we receive from patients and their families is very touching,” says Conroy.

One parent shared insight into her son’s experience at Camp Winning Hands: “My son started coming to Camp Winning Hands the first year that you offered a teen camp. This year he was a counselor for the first time. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that those days he spends in Livermore every summer have been magical for him. Since that first summer, we have scheduled our summer vacation AROUND the dates of the camp so that he can participate. It’s not even really about the hand. There is some very special magic dust you have sparkled over that place and staff. He comes home from camp always feeling so great about himself and high on life.”

Each year camp has a different theme. This year’s activities were organized around a Survivor theme, and guiding campers through their adventures was a team of volunteers from our hospital — including 11 employees, and six former patients. Providing added inspiration were two special guests:

Tony Memmel, a guitarist from Nashville, born without a left forearm and hand, who taught himself to play by using duct tape to secure the guitar pick to his arm, and

Kelly Crowley, a Paralympian born with an arm difference who works as a USA swimming coach and is working with Paralympic Sport Clubs to help anyone with a disability achieve their athletic goals.

Turning all the activities into a successful camping experience is our team of Shriners Hospital volunteers. A big thank you goes out to Janice Conroy, Michelle A. James, M.D., Daniel Buchanan, Katie Cantrill, Dr. Amy Fenoglio, Aimee Gamez, Kelsey James, Yuen Leung, Sally Martens, Victoria Owens, and Janis Tokunaga. The desire to make a difference seems to be contagious as three members of the hand team at the Northern California Shriners Hospital have family members who also volunteer.

To learn more about Camp Winning Hands click here.

Four girls wearing helmets smiling

A young girl on a ropes course

Young girl jumping on an obstacle course

Shriners Hospitals for Children is devoted to transforming the lives of children through excellence in treatment, teaching and research. Located at 2425 Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California provides care to children with orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns, cleft lip, scars from any cause and other complex surgical needs. There are no barriers to care as admission is based on age and diagnosis.   Care is provided regardless of the family’s ability to pay. For further information call (916) 453-2000.

Media Contact: Catherine Curran | Public Relations (916) 453-2218 |