Sunday, June 01, 2003
A place where kids can breath easier
Photo courtesy of the American Lung Association
Kids with asthma can act like regular kids when they go to summer camp.
Many people believe children with asthma should avoid exercise, but nothing could be further than the truth.
"Asthmatic children need lots of physical activity," says Dr. Bill Stratbucker, a Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center pediatrician. "And since asthma is a chronic illness, it's important for children to assume more responsibility for their own care as they grow."
That's why asthma camps sponsored by the American Lung Association have sprung up throughout the country. Asthma camps combine the everyday pleasures of camp with the close supervision of medical personnel.
"Kids can learn more about their illness and meet other children with asthma, all while having a great time," says Stratbucker. "About the only typical camp activity campers don't do is horseback riding for fear of the horses triggering an asthma attack."
Children receive daily medical education, and respiratory therapists check peak flow meters regularly, even bunking down in the kids' cabins. A board-certified pediatrician is always on the premises, and a hospital is nearby.
Children who live in Chicago or suburban Cook County can attend Camp ACTION, an overnight asthma camp sponsored every summer for children ages 9 to 12. Camp ACTION is operated by the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago in conjunction with a YMCA camp just outside Milwaukee. "Preference is given to children who require daily asthma medication year-round and are referred by their doctor," says Stratbucker, the camp's medical director. This year's session will be Aug. 3-9, with a July registration deadline.
Two day camps are available for residents of Maywood and the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods in Chicago.
The Maywood session, held in conjunction with Loyola University Medical Center, are June 23-27. The Pilsen and Little Village session is July 14-18. For 2004, asthmatic children ages 8-12 who reside outside Cook County may be eligible to attend Camp Superkids, an overnight camp sponsored by the American Lung Association of Illinois-Iowa. Registration deadline is May 1, 2004.
Visit www.asthmacamps.org for more information or, inside Cook County, call (312) 628-0228. Other Illinois residents can call (800) 586-4872.
-- Darcy Lewis