CHOP employees volunteer at various summer camps, including a residential outdoor camp for children with cardiac conditions.

Making summer camp accessible for kidsNine years ago, when a local family wanted to start a residential outdoor camp for children with cardiac conditions, CHOP cardiologist Brian Hanna, MD, PhD, stepped up to serve as Medical Director.

“Our mission is to provide a safe environment for children with thoracic transplantation or pulmonary hypertension so they can interact with their peers, experience life away from their protective families, and be challenged to step outside of their comfort zone,” Hanna says of the camp, which has been held for one week each summer since 2007 at the Echo Hill Outdoor School in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. “Just think about the organization that it takes to get 30 kids through the med room three times a day for IV therapies, oral and g-tube meds, liquids, pills and inhalations. This alone is a feat worth seeing!”

Under Hanna’s guidance, the volunteer nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physicians and fellows make it a reality for the happy campers year after year.

CHOP employees also volunteer at summer camps for children with kidney disease, diabetes, brain injuries, muscular dystrophies, epilepsy and other serious health conditions that necessitate a heightened level of medical care be on hand 24/7. The children can safely have a camping experience while their parents are at ease, knowing experienced clinicians are taking care of their kids' medical needs.

For several years, the nursing staff of the 4 East/4 South units of Children’s Hospital have collaborated with the City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department to bring trauma prevention education to children at Philadelphia summer day camps. In partnership with the Community Nurse Advocacy Fellowship, they developed lessons on sun, water, helmet, ATV and pedestrian safety. Each topic included hands-on play for the campers to enhance learning. CHOP staff educated more than 500 children, ranging in ages from 6 to 11 years old, at 15 summer camps.

The kids particularly enjoyed one activity that provided a valuable safety lesson, too. An egg, representing a brain, was placed into an insulated bucket, which represented a bike helmet. Nurses threw the bucket to demonstrate the important use of a helmet during an accident. The children expected the egg to crack, but were amazed to see the “brain” intact after the demonstration.