For more than 25 years, PA Vent Camp has maximized abilities and minimized disabilities. We provide a week free from limitations.
RT Pam Smith, PA Vent Camp 1995
Everybody deserves to experience summer camp at least once in their lives. The needs (for both supportive care and wheelchair access) of children and adults who require mechanical ventilation to breathe not only limit their recreational activities, but also define the campsite requirements. Other camp programs would be unable to tailor their activities and facilities to fit the needs of these kids, much less to provide the staff necessary for 24-hours-a-day care. But thanks to a group of respiratory therapists at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, led by Respiratory Therapist (RT) Pam Smith, summer camp for these individuals is now a reality.
PA Vent Camp held its first week without limits in 1993, and to this day, campers look forward to the highly anticipated and enjoyable "independent" living experience away from home, parents, and the hospital.
The week-long summer camp held in June each year is open to children ages 5 to 18 who use any sort of mechanical ventilation (ventilators, BiPAP, or CPAP). Hosted on the fully-accessible grounds of Camp Victory in Millville, PA, campers have access to a zip-line, rock wall, pond, pontoon boat, tree house, wildlife center, board games, and arts and crafts. There’s never a boring day!
PA Vent Camp also offers a program called Horizons -- aweekend retreat for adult campers ages 21+ that takes place in September each year.
As for medical care, PA Vent Camp is staffed entirely by volunteers who represent a variety of disciplines (nurses; physicians; and respiratory, occupational, physical, speech and recreational therapists). Volunteers also include general helpers who fill a variety of roles as activities staff members, camp partners, cooks, and errand-runners (shout out to "Walmart Joe").