Special camp helps kids with asthma have fun - WSMV Channel 4

Special camp helps kids with asthma have fun

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Many of us don't think twice about sending our kids to summer camp.

For kids with asthma, that's not always an option.

There's a camp designed just for them, to allow them to experience one of the greatest summer pastimes.

Braden Soper is soaking up his first year at camp.

If the pool and lake weren't enough, he's found a new favorite. The 7-year-old is working to hit the bull's eye through archery.

Soper had asthma, so getting to camp was a challenge.

Vanderbilt children's doctor Ashley Chadha said camps aren't always an option for kids with moderate-to-severe asthma.

"Camp is one big trigger with kids with asthma," said Chadha. "Pool, trees, lakes, grasses, and they are running. All those things can be triggers for kids with asthma."

That's why a team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists spend the week with these campgoers at Camp Widjiwagan armed with medical kits and inhalers.

They're the ones watching for emergencies so Soper and the other campers can focus on having fun.

"A lot of these kids feel like they are the only kid going through it," said Chadha. "Here, it almost becomes the norm to have an inhaler. That's a neat transition for kids to see, to know it's OK to have asthma and need an inhaler."

It's not just about taking the boats out or hopping in the pool. It's also about education. There's a part of the camp that also teaches asthma and how to better manage their disease.

"Each day we spend 45 minutes with kids, teaching them about disease and the medication so they can feel safe playing with friends," said Chadha.

Today Soper leaves with more than just memories. He made new friends who, just like him, struggle with asthma every day.

The camp is put on through a partnership with Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and the Miller Harris Foundation.

Every child who attends the camp is given a full scholarship for the entire week.

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