Asthma Camps for Asthmatic Children

Sloane Miller Health Guide
  • I spent six happy summers at sleep away camp in the hills of rural Pennsylvania.


    What wasn't so happy was being allergic and asthmatic during those summers. One summer in particular I came down with viral pneumonia. I don't remember how I alerted the staff that I was sick but I recall being taken to the local hospital in this very small town. We walked from the waiting room straight into x-ray. Diagnosis: viral pneumonia in one lung. I was given a prescription and sent back to camp to stay in the infirmary for a week.


    Infirmary time meant TV time! Outside of the infirmary, this was a TV-free, phone-free camp. There was little to no contact with the outside world except letters from home. Even packages with candy were banned. I was rooming with an older camper who had both scarlet fever and mono. Luckily, she was at the tail end of both so we rested and watched old reruns on the small set with bunny ear antennae. I took my medicine: a capsule, which was sprinkled onto apple sauce and I rested on the little cot watching everyone else have all of the fun.

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    Do you have a child with asthma? Or a combination of asthma and allergies or another condition like diabetes? Are there medications to juggle? Or ultimately, do you worry about sending your asthmatic loved one away to camp for precisely the reasons that I outline above -- a sick kid far away from home?


    I had a chance to talk briefly with Jill Heins-Nesvold, MS, Director, Consortium on Children's Asthma Camps, about asthma camps. Yes, camps for children with asthma!

    Health Central: In general, how is an asthma camp different from a non-asthma camp? 

    Jill Heins-Nesvold: An asthma camp is exclusively for children and youth with persistent asthma. Many of the youth who attend asthma camp aren't allowed to attend a "mainstream" camp because of their chronic disease and daily medications. Asthma camps are set up and staffed by highly trained medical professionals to ensure the youth's asthma is well managed during the camp. In addition, at asthma camp, the campers learn about their chronic disease, signs and symptoms, how and when to take their medications, and how to participate in all activities even though they have asthma.


    HC: Are there programs for all ages? 

    Jill: There are approximately 95 asthma camps nationwide. The ages vary among and between camps, but usually between ages 8 and15.


    HC: Are asthma camps very expensive?

    Jill: Many of the camps provide camperships (financial aid) for limited income families.


    HC: What other issues besides asthma can be handled at asthma camps? 

    Jill: Many children with asthma have other co-morbid conditions that must be addressed during asthma camp.  Examples include allergies, diabetes, obesity, attention deficient disorder and behavioral issues.


    This is great news. If you haven't already made your child's summer plans have a look at the Consortium website for further information about camps in your area.


Published On: May 04, 2008