Should She Attend A Regular Camp Or A Camp For Children With Asthma?

Our 10-year-old daughter who has asthma wants to go to sleep-away camp next summer. Should she attend a regular camp or a camp for children with asthma?

The answer to what type of summer camp might be best for your daughter with asthma depends on several factors. Considerations include the severity of her asthma, her level of asthma control, and importantly, how effectively she copes both practically and emotionally with her asthma symptoms and exacerbations. Like a pendulum, our perspective on camps that are limited to children with a specific medical condition swing back and forth. For a child who has recently been diagnosed with asthma, being in an environment where all the children have the same condition can be very positive.

Your child will learn that she is not the only one who has to learn to live with asthma. More importantly, the constructive examples of good self-management skills exhibited by other, knowledgeable children with asthma will go a long way toward improving your daughter’s appreciation of the fact that she can control her symptoms, thereby increasing her self-image and well-being. In the unique environment that an asthma camp pro-vides, your child will not only have a good social experience but, equally importantly, will become more confident in her ability to deal with a potential pattern of recurring symptoms.

Children who go to an asthma camp become more informed about their disease and therefore may be more effective in taking an active role in self-management.

Depending on their age, children will learn how and when to take their medications and become accustomed to the routine of a regular dosing schedule. The time spent at camp can provide an intensive educational experience, which is critical for the development of appropriate asthma self-management skills.

The increased knowledge that comes from attending an asthma camp and the self-confidence your child will develop from realizing that she can control the disease most of the time (rather than the other way around) makes it an invaluable experience.

Many children realize, and some for the first time, that they can participate in almost all sports activities. Through age-appropriate teaching, campers will learn why they need to take their medicines. As a direct result of the time spent at camp, most children will have fewer unscheduled asthma visits to their pediatrician and the emergency room upon their return.

Naturally, the ultimate goal for any child with a medical condition is for them to function as normally as possible and to fulfill not only their potential, but also their hopes and dreams. Children who have asthma can accomplish this goal within the framework of an appropriate, comprehensive asthma management plan. Asthma should not compromise your child’s ability to perform well at school, on the athletic field, or at home.

Time spent at an asthma camp can provide your child with the self-management tools to help make this happen. However, like so many other things, rarely does one size fit all, and therefore not every child who has asthma must go or should go only to an asthma-oriented camp. For some children, a potential problem with going to an asthma camp is that too much attention is focused on the disease and not enough on the other social, educational, and athletic aspects of a camp experience.

Others may want to attend the same camp that their schoolmates attend. Many children with asthma have had rewarding camp experiences at regular summer camps. Each child’s situation is different; deciding which type of camp will provide the best experience for a particular child is an individual’s choice.