GREENWOOD TOWNSHIP — There are summer camps underway all over our area now that schools are out for vacation but one in Columbia County is for kids who require quite a bit of extra care.
It’s called PA Vent Camp. It’s for children who require ventilators to help them breathe but with a big staff to help, we found those kids are doing things they never dreamed of.
There were squeals of joy from a boy that has a lot of challenges in life but PA Vent Camp is meant to help him forget that.
“It was awesome! You go really fast and it’s not even that high so I’m not that scared,” said Mason Hickerson of Lebanon.
Mason and the other campers rely on ventilators to help them breathe, but that’s not keeping them out of the pool, away from the fishing, or avoiding any of the camp activities at the Camp Victory facility near Millville.
They may not want to do everything. Kissing a fish didn’t seem appealing.
But there is a big staff on hand to make sure these boys and girls don’t have to be held back by any disability.
“I love it, it’s just so much fun,” Lily Sellers of Carlisle.
“It’s what it’s all about, the kids smiling. We do anything to make the kids smile,” said volunteer Greg Hagins.
There are a lot of logistics needed to make that happen for the campers who do need special care, at least three volunteers for every one of them.
There are doctors and nurses, too.
“We have an incredible staff that comes year after year. We joke you might be a little nervous at first, but once you come here, you’re hooked,” said Noel Smith.
Tatiana said she wants me to get in the water and have some fun, too. I didn’t quite come dressed for that but they sure are having a good time.
“During my 10 years of being a camper I’ve just grown so much and this place has helped me, you know, not be ashamed of who I am or my disabilities,” said volunteer Jasmine Brown.
Jasmine loved being a camper so much, she’s now back as a volunteer.
“So to be able to come back and be able to help other campers, hopefully, feel the same way is a great feeling.”
Their life may seem to be always connected to those ventilators but at PA Vent Camp, they get to cut loose.
“Seeing them be so free, it’s awesome. It’s the best thing in the world.”
The children who go to Pa Vent Camp and their families don’t pay a thing. Fundraising is done all year long to make this happen.