The Consortium on Children's Asthma Camps has videos that you can watch to see what camp is like. Still nervous about sending your child with a medical condition to camp?
I get it. I have 3 kids with asthma, and I HATED sending them to summer camp every year. My kids were far from home, in the mountains with lots of asthma triggers, far from medical care, and nobody would know what to do if they had an asthma attack.
I worried from the minute they left until they came back and pulled in the driveway. Over-reaction? Well, my kids were hospitalized 12 times with asthma, and my son was in ICU twice - so yeah, I have a right to worry!
To ease my mind, my husband would use his extra vacation time and volunteer at the church scout camps with our sons. He would teach them how to pitch tents, light a campfire, make s'mores, etc. The MOST important thing I would pack for him was the compressor, nebulizer kit and LOTS of albuterol vials - just in case. Oh, and the adapter so he could plug the nebulizer into the truck and use it.
Our state doesn't have asthma camps, but many other states do. I would have felt SO much safer sending my kids to asthma camps! They really are a different experience.
What's asthma camp like?
You check into camp with your child, meet with the staff about their medications (they really have seen ALL the asthma medications and know how to help the kids if they need it.) There are doctors, nurses and respiratory therapist at the camps. There is also a behavioral therapist (for those kids that get home sick, depressed, angry, or have other problems going on at home.) You get to meet everyone and tour the camp. Then the parents leave and the camp begins.
What do they do at the camps?
Same things kids do at other camps - kayak, swim in the lake, archery, arts and crafts, cooking by campfire, nature walks, ropes courses, dorky skits - the usual.
But it's also important that they learn about asthma. Do they know their asthma triggers? Are they using their inhaler correctly? Do they know the difference between rescue inhalers and controller inhalers. Do they know the NAME of their medicine and know what it's for (not just "yeah, I use this thingy"....).
What about peer pressure?
The staff teaches kids how to deal with their friends, and what to do if they need to alter their activity level because their asthma is flaring up. They even learn how to call the pharmacy to get a refill on their inhaler!
How do you find an asthma camp near you?
I looked up programs in different states, and there is a big variety of programs out there. Some are 3 days, some are almost a week. Costs for camps range from free - $325, and everything in between. Many offer "camperships" (scholarships) for families in need.
Has anyone had kids who attended asthma camp? Let's hear your stories!
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?