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Kids Tackle Their Asthma While Having Fun at AAFA Alaska Summer Camp

 

Sleepaway camp is a rite of passage for some kids. For children with asthma, there are additional concerns.

What if my child gets sick? How will she know to take her medicine?

Asthma camps provide health education for kids and peace of mind for parents.

"We want to provide camp for kids whose parents generally would not let them go to a camp," says Dale Knutsen, Executive Director of AAFA Alaska, one of the five Regional Chapters of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

AAFA Alaska hosts 30 children, ages 8 to 14, at Peninsula Puffers. Every year the camp is full and there is a wait list.

aafa-ak-camp-girls-face-painted Photo courtesy of Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Alaska Chapter

An eight-year-old is just old enough to sleep at camp, she says. And a young teen is old enough to learn to manage symptoms and understand asthma self-care.

"We kind of think the earlier we get kids, the more years we have to educate them,” says Ms. Knutsen. Seventy-five percent of the children also have food allergies. Many families return year after year.

aafa-ak-camp-kayaking
Photo courtesy of Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Alaska Chapter

Held on the shores of Cooper Landing, 90 minutes south of Anchorage, there is the usual camp fun: archery, arts and crafts, swimming, kayaking and more.

The kids are also taught:

  • What happens during an asthma flare-up
  • Asthma myths and facts
  • All about asthma medicine
  • The social aspects of being a kid with asthma

That last point is important for kids who may come from rural areas of Alaska, where they may be the only child in school with asthma or food allergy, says Ms. Knutsen. 

aafa-ak-camp-group-circlePhoto courtesy of Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Alaska Chapter

Peninsula Puffers attracts a diverse group of children – those from Anchorage and those from surrounding remote areas. It is the only asthma camp in Alaska.

The entire medical staff volunteers their time and are on-site for the entire camp.

"We're very grateful and appreciative to our local medical community," says Ms. Knutsen.

For details about next year's camp, visit Peninsula Puffers Asthma Camp

 

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