For over 20 years, the PA Vent Camp has served the children of Pennsylvania
Over the past decades as medical technology and chronic care have improved, it has become commonplace for children’s hospitals to discharge children on some form of assisted home ventilation. In 1991 the staff of the Penn State Children’s Hospital followed few patients at home on ventilators. Today the chronic ventilator service follows over 70 children ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years. Currently the Pennsylvania State Home Ventilator program, a state agency, lists approximately 250 children at home on ventilators. Many of these children are intellectually intact and attend preschool programs and regular schools.
There are many camps for children with disabilities such as camps for children with cancer or muscular dystrophy but there are only a few camps for children who require a ventilator to breathe. This is due to the need for total care 24 hours a day. In addition to the total care, ventilator dependent children often are also wheelchair bound, which limits the availability of camp locations. Pa Vent Camp’s purpose is to provide a camp to meet the needs of children on ventilators with multiple healthcare needs.
In 1993 under the leadership of Pam Smith, a respiratory therapist, and a small group of professionals, the Pennsylvania Vent Camp was founded. The camp has grown from 14 to well over 30 campers. PA Vent Camp is open to children from any state, however, preference is given to PA. To qualify, children must require a ventilator, BiPAP, or CPAP to breathe, need to understand and be able to participate in camp activities, and be able to be medically cared for in a camp setting.
Download a printable PA Vent Camp brochure.