Imagine not being able to breathe. You gasp but can’t get the air you need to live. Now imagine living every day with the fear that today might be the day that you won’t be able to breathe due to an asthma attack.
Children who have asthma live with the constant fear that they may experience an attack and not get the help they need in time. Sometimes they have to miss out on doing the things that other children are doing because it might cause them to have an attack; sometimes they miss out on having a normal childhood. Camp Wyatt wants to change that.
“Children and parents lock themselves inside and live in a bubble,” Spencer Slade said, program coordinator for The American Lung Association in Utah. “We’re trying to get away from that.”
About 28 years ago, the American Lung Association in Utah founded Camp Wyatt so that children with asthma get to do all of the camp activities that they might otherwise be excluded from. The children also learn asthma management techniques at the camp.
Located at the Utah Elks’ Camp Wapiti just south of Tooele City, the camp offers 24-hour medical supervision and is open to every child ages 8 to 14 regardless of asthma severity. Camperships are available for those who might otherwise not be able to afford it. Camp is scheduled to start July 11 and run through July 15.
“We mix fun with asthma education,” Slade said. The camp is especially good for non-compliant children who learn better management techniques.
“Unmanaged asthma can complicate quickly,” he said, “so management is very important and we stress that.”
The camp is staffed with physicians, registered nurses and trained camp counselors. Slade said that long-standing relationships with the University of Utah School of Nursing and Pharm. D. programs and Weber State’s Respiratory Therapy program makes recruiting volunteers easy. Camp Wyatt has also recruited volunteers from SLCC in years past.
Volunteers don’t necessarily need a medical background. Volunteer positions are available for camp counselors, lifeguards and cooks.
It costs the American Lung Association in Utah about $700 per camper to hold camp. Parents are asked to pay $200.
“There is no financial reason to turn away a child,” Slade said. Camperships are available and about 40% of the campers receive some sort of financial assistance.
Slade expects between 70 and 80 campers this year, but hopes to see around 100. Those attending the camp will need to have seen a physician and have his or her written approval to attend the camp.
The theme for Camp Wyatt 2011 is game shows. There will be several surprise activities planned around the theme.
Visit campwyatt.com or call (801)484-4456 for more information. The deadline for camp applications is July 5, 2011.
Those who wish to make a donation to support the American Lung Association and their programs here in Utah may do so by visiting lungutah.org.