Texas Asthma Camp for Kids

About the Camp

After more than a decade and a half of commitment to children with asthma, the Texas Asthma Camp for Kids has claimed its place as the largest and oldest asthma camp in the state of Texas. Since 1985, hundreds of children have learned the skills necessary to manage their asthma while at the same time realizing that they could run, swim and have fun—just like kids at traditional camps.

Held each year for one week in June on beautiful Lake Tyler located in Smith County, Texas, the camp is a community-wide effort of which we can be proud. The Texas Asthma Camp for Kids is organized and conducted by the UT Health Northeast, supported by Texas Chest Foundation and staffed in part by respiratory therapy students from Tyler Junior College and Angelina College in Lufkin who serve as counselors while receiving credit for the clinical experience.

The Need is Great
The need for a camp like this one has never been greater. More than half of the 17 million Americans who have asthma are children. A recent survey reported that 70 percent of all Americans either have asthma in their household or immediate family or know of someone with the disease. One in three children suffering from asthma went to an emergency room last year because of an asthma attack. Even more alarming is that over the last 15 years, the number of deaths from asthma has increased by 150 percent. With more effective treatment and better medications than ever, why are children still dying from asthma?

Asthma—The Disease
Asthma is a lung disease that affects the airways that carry air into and out of the lungs. Symptoms vary from child to child, but can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Recent studies have shown that untreated asthma can cause long-term and permanent damage to the lungs and other major organs. For the person without asthma, the sensation would be similar to breathing through a cocktail straw compared to breathing normally though a garden hose.

Living with asthma can sometimes by scary and lonely for a child. They may feel isolated and fear they are the only ones who have the disease. Children with asthma are sometimes the targets of other kids who make fun of them. Asthma Camp teaches asthmatic children that they are not alone and that many others suffer from the same disease. Many campers return year after year and make life-long friends through the Texas Asthma Camp for Kids.

The Importance of Education
Children don’t always recognize the signs of an oncoming asthma attack until it’s too late. Experts agree that education is the key, and the staff of the Texas Asthma Camp for Kids is committed to creating an environment at camp where children can learn about their disease while having fun at the same time. The education mission of the Texas Asthma Camp for Kids is to help children learn how to take an active role in the management of their disease. During the week, they learn what happens to the lungs before and during an asthma attack, and they are taught about the different types of medications and their effects on the disease. Most importantly, they learn the steps they can take on their own to better manage their asthma and avoid an attack.

What Parents Say
Asthma camp can be a life-changing experience for the kids who attend each year. Letters from parents bear witness to that fact. One parent wrote of her son, "You introduced him to a lot of activities, and for the first time he is starting to venture out and try new things. For the longest time, he felt like he was the only one with asthma. Now I know he will become all he can be. I would like to thank you all so very much for offering children like my son this opportunity."

Another parent said, "I’ve noticed a dramatic change in my daughter’s asthma since camp. I don’t have to remind her to take her medications—now she does it on her own. We haven’t been to the emergency room once this year. The education program at camp completely changed her outlook on life."

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