Summer camps provide a great environment for kids to develop social and decision-making skills and they often introduce children to the great outdoors.
The same is true for children who are chronically ill and require ventilation support, according to a study recently published by HU Physical Therapy Professor Dr. Tonya Miller and colleagues Jennifer Price PT, DPT, with the Department of Physical therapy at Lebanon Valley College (LVC); and Robert Creath Ph.D., Department of Exercise Science.
The study, “The Effect of an Overnight Summer Camp on the Quality of Life for Individuals Who Require Ventilatory Support,” appears in in the “Pediatric Physical Therapy” journal. The team, which included graduate students from LVC, has found that attending summer camp boosts the quality of life for children using ventilators. And the more years such children attend summer camp, the better their quality of life becomes, according to the study.
“In my experience, the children who have the opportunity to attend camp develop strong connections to others experiencing similar medical and life challenges,” Miller said. “The connection expands well beyond the time spent at camp. Campers and volunteers become a community who are there for each other.”
Even though growing evidence supports summer camp attendance for the chronically ill, no prior research has measured the effects of these experiences on those who require the use of ventilators, said Miller, who is a founding member and executive director of PA Vent Camp – a camp for children who are ventilatory dependent. Next summer, the group will host its 30th camp.
The study enlisted 11 participants who completed the Pediatric Camp Outcome Measure via an online survey to examine the perceptions of attending camp on self-esteem, social functioning, emotional functioning, and physical functioning.
The study found that those who attended camp longer had higher overall Pediatric Camp Outcome Measure scores, as well as social functioning and physical functioning subscale results.
“I have had the opportunity to be involved with PA Vent Camp since its inception 30 years ago and I have seen the positive impact of a camp experience for many campers and volunteers,” Miller added. “This study supports what we have observed over the years.”
To access the study article, please visit this link.
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