Kristen Capadona ran through a list of phobias the next week's campers were bringing with them - spiders, thunderstorms, darkness, loud noises, dogs.

Kristen Capadona ran through a list of phobias the next week's campers were bringing with them - spiders, thunderstorms, darkness, loud noises, dogs.

"And," she announced, "we have one who's afraid of zombies."

Ryan Brownfield looked up from his notepad.

"Who isn't afraid of zombies?" he asked, then returned to the business at hand: planning the next week of camps at Flying Horse Farms. As chief program director, Brownfield was leading 12 staff members through the session.

The 70 children, ages 8 to 15, who would be descending on the 200-acre camp east of Mount Gilead in Morrow County, pack more than just a handful of normal childhood fears. As survivors of cancer and various blood diseases, they also would be arriving with chemo ports, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, medications and - most importantly - indomitable wills to, as Brownfield described it, "suck the marrow out of the experience" of camp.

During camp weeks before and after that group, another 400+ children with heart disease, asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, craniofacial anomalies, rheumatoid arthritis and kidney conditions also would visit. Each would have a full-fledged camp experience - from fishing and canoeing to swimming and ziplining, from dining-hall songfests and late-night gigglefests to archery lessons and super-secret "Wish Stick" ceremonies.

In the spring and fall, their siblings and parents also have the opportunity to stay at the camp. And, thanks to fundraising and the efforts of 2,000+ volunteers, attending the camp costs them nothing.

Camps like Flying Horse Farms, which serve children with medical, developmental and/or emotional needs, are on the rise. In 2002, the American Camp Association tallied about 200 camps for children with serious illnesses. In 2015, their records show 984 ACA-accredited camps now offer such programs.

Flying Horse Farms is part of the ACA as well as the SeriousFun Children's Network, an offshoot of late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, which opened in 1988. Flying Horse Farms opened in 2010 and joined the network at that time.

Twelve-year-old Marin Henry has attended Flying Horse Farms every year since 2011. The Worthington girl was born with a heart defect and battles a variety of challenges, including bradycardia, a condition that causes a slower-than-normal heart rate.

The week before she headed to camp this summer, Marin already was counting down til departure. The more the pale, smiling blonde talked about the upcoming trip, the faster the words tumbled out.

"When I was 7, before I went," Marin said, "I didn't really have a best friend. I had friends, but when I went there, it really opens you up to who you are. If you're like quirky, they accept you for who you are."

She paused a moment.

"A lot of us are quirky," she said. "Most of us are quirky."

Her mother, Sarah Hansen, smiled as she listened to her daughter.

"One of her teachers, after that first time," Hansen recalled, "she asked me, 'What has happened to Marin? She's totally different.'"

The impact a camp like this has on children - and their families - is real, though not always in ways that can be tested empirically and quantified neatly.

Dr. Barb Galantowicz is the medical director for Flying Horse Farms. She has seen the impact of camp in tangible ways.

"Last year we had one kid who was on palliative care and had oxygen," she said, describing a type of specialized medical care that aims to ease stress in a seriously ill person.

"This year when he came back, he had gone from 35 meds to 25," Galantowicz said. "He was no longer on palliative care and didn't need oxygen.

"Did we do all that?" she asked herself. "No, but there was a shift for him and the parents that started here."

One of the people Marin couldn't wait to see again was Dr. Jerry Boyle. He's the chairman of pediatric cardiology at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. He also - well, let Marin explain:

"He always wears a tutu, the whole time," Marin said. "And he sometimes wears fairy wings."

When Marin arrived for her camp week, Boyle was there with his tutu and a ball cap decked out with Pegasus wings. Most of the staff dresses very creatively.

Boyle's fairy wings were getting a rest one afternoon because he had just delivered an hour-long lecture on pediatric cardiology to fellow volunteers.

"I took my wings off," Boyle deadpanned. "If I didn't, they wouldn't take me seriously."

By then he was sitting next to the pool while a few dozen kids, most of them sporting surgical chest scars in varying shades of pink and tan, frolicked in the cool water.

"These kids are always the odd man out at home," he said. "Then they come here and it's like, 'Wow, I'm not alone.'"

Boyle pointed to a group of four young teens outside the pool fence.

"See that boy walking by with the blond hair?" he said, nodding at a kid who was gesturing broadly and making the others laugh. "Remember that."

Boyle went on to tell stories of children and how the camp experience has changed them. Eventually he got around to the story of "Deep End Ken," the kid who, five years ago, was terrified of getting wet, even in the rain. The kid who could only play his saxophone onstage at "Stage Night" from behind a screen. The kid who learned how to cannonball into the deep end of the pool, earning that nickname.

"He is a totally different child now," Boyle said. "He has come completely outside his shell. That blond kid who just walked by? That's him."

Boyle could lay claim to being the biggest fan these children have, but first he'd have to get past Bill "Grandpa" Kreeger. He's another of Marin's favorite people.

Kreeger is a retired local businessman who has volunteered at the camp since its inception. As he sat outside the dining hall after lunch, a camper scooted up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and ran away, laughing. Without turning, Kreeger called out, "Hi, Caleb!"

He asked, "That was a green shirt, wasn't it?" Assured the camper was wearing a green shirt, Kreeger grinned broadly.

"That was Caleb," he nodded. He knows these kids, each and every one of them. And he adores them.

"For so many kids here, the world is so cruel," Kreeger said, his eyes tearing up. "You learn from these kids. I can't call them handicapped…"

He stopped for a moment and collected himself.

"You look at the hand some of these kids have been dealt," he said. "What they've done with their hand of cards makes me look like a rank amateur."

Marin sat at a table in the Angie's Arts & Crafts building. She was nearly done creating a T-shirt decorated with the three blocks of the camp's signature colors.

"Blue, green and orange - in that order," she had said, the week before during her pre-camp interview. "They're my favorite colors."

Before she started to apply the words "Flying Horse Farms" in black puffy paint, she looked up and smiled. The pale blonde girl from a week ago had been replaced by a young lady whose skin glowed berry-brown and whose hair shimmered in the sunlight.

"It's the best place in the world," she said.