Find the right summer camp for your child with pulmonary hypertension
Summer camps support friendships and activity with peers, two important aspects of helping kids cope with chronic illness. Planning for camp does involve some investigation and forethought, but the efforts made up front will ultimately prevent late night calls or dangerous situations for your child. Here are some things to consider when finding a summer camp for a child who has pulmonary hypertension.
Checklist for Choosing a Camp
- Choose a camp based on all of your child’s needs. Some camps can handle special dietary restrictions. Some are designed so that family members can stay for the fun, or as volunteers. Search online to familiarize yourself with the various camps in your area — the amount of information available online is extensive. You can even narrow your choices to camps catering to kids with heart or lung disease, which may help you find the perfect camp for your child.
- Check the camp’s activities. Make sure your child will be comfortable with planned activities and will be supervised by adults or skilled teens, if needed. If field trips are scheduled, find out what type of transportation will be provided. Ask about the chaperone-to-camper ratio on these trips so you can be sure your child will receive the attention he or she needs.
- Know how much physical activity the campers will be involved in. Sport camps and adventure camps can be fun, but they are also likely to be physically demanding and mentally challenging. Know your child’s interests and limits, and rest assured that he or she will have fun at camp, no matter the type.
- Make sure the camp has a first aid plan. Camp staff should know how far they are from medical facilities and whether the hospital is a major trauma center. If it is not, look for camps with nurses on-site; some camps staff a full-time physician or nurse.
- Find out whether the camp is accredited with the American Camping Association. The ACA has stringent health requirements. Learn more about the organization’s accreditation guidelines on the ACA website.
- Explain to the camp the specifics about the medications your child is taking. Staff should be made aware of all medications and medication schedules. Make sure the camp you are interested in is able to accommodate IV medications, if necessary.
- Talk to your health insurance company about whether your child’s insurance is portable, and what requirements exist should your child need to be seen by a doctor while at camp.
Start planning for a fun, safe summer
Finding the right camp for your child requires some research. If you’d be more comfortable staying local, check with your local hospital to find out if they offer camps for children living with heart conditions or chronic illness. Many states have summer camps for chronically ill children. There are also a number of online resources that may be helpful to you in your search:
- American Camping Association
- National Camp Association
- Summer Fun Camp Guide from the Federation for Children with Special Needs
- The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities has several summer camp resources
- Hole in the Wall Camps have locations across the country
Select Camps by Region
- Camp Boggy Creek, Eustis, Fla.
- Double H Hole in the Woods Ranch, Lake Luzerne, N.Y.
- Dragonfly Heart Camp, Chestertown, Md. (especially for children who’ve received heart or lung transplant or are diagnosed with PH)
- The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, Ashford, Conn.
- Flying Horse Farms, Mt. Gilead, Ohio
- Victory Junction, Randleman, N.C.
- Camp Joyful Hearts, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Camp Odayin, Stillwater, Minn.
- Roundup River Ranch, Avon, Colo.
- Camp Sealth, Vashon, Wash.
- Camp Korey, Carnation, Wash.
- The Painted Turtle, Lake Hughes, Calif.
- Kids Heart Camp, Salida, Calif.
This resource was adapted from a summer 2007 Pathlight article by Nancy Frede.