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Breathing a sigh of relief -- together: Asthma camp coming to peninsula

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

As the halcyon days of summer continue, many youngsters are preparing for brief stints at summer camps. But a new Kenai Peninsula camp will cater to kids with a chronic disorder of their airways.

"It's called Peninsula Puffers Asthma Camp, and it's just that -- a camp for kids with asthma," said Dale Knutsen, of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which along with Central Peninsula Hospital, is responsible for the camp's inception.

Situated at scenic Camp Kushtaka in Cooper Landing, the asthma camp will offer many of the typical summer camp staples.

"Kids will enjoy swimming, boating, archery, arts and crafts and nature studies," Knutsen said.

However, campers also will participate in daily, hands-on educational sessions related to asthma, including topics such as asthma tools, asthma myths and facts, medication awareness and social issues related to asthma.

"It's asthma education in a fun atmosphere, so they can learn about asthma, triggers that can exasperate it and how to manage it," Knutsen said.

Most summer camps would not exclude children with asthma, particularly since Alaska has numerous cases of the medical condition.

"Our rate of children with asthma is about 14 percent, which in a classroom setting would be about one of two of the kids in the class having it," she said.

However, she said for many children it is comforting to be around others who also share in the ailment.

"They can go to a place and know everyone there has asthma, which is good for some kids. They can talk freely about their asthma and know the other kids will understand," Knutsen said.

The children aren't the only ones that can feel at ease at the camp. She said parents also can take solace in knowing a board-certified pediatrician and volunteer medical team will be on site at all times.

"It's a fun environment for kids, and parents will have piece of mind. There's 24 hour medical care at camp, so if a problem arises, there's a doctor there," she said.

The camp is scheduled to run from June 28 through July 1. The cost is $50 per child, and it's for kids ages 8 through 14. Space will be limited to the first 30 to register.

"We need to get folks lined up before the 28th, so the sign-up deadline will be the 24th," Knutsen said.

Registration can be done online at www.aafaalaska.com/camp-registration.php or by printing and faxing registration to 907-696-4810. For more information, call 907-349-0637.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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