The week-long sleep-away camp creates unprecedented recreational and fellowship opportunities for children requiring ventilator assistance and their families. Since the program was founded in 1986, more than 180 families, some of whom have traveled from 27 states and three countries, have benefitted from this unique experience.
VACC Camp has provided children with tracheostomies (requiring oxygen and ventilators to breathe), along with their families, a week filled with activities such as swimming, boating and bowling regardless of their medical limitations. The camp has made possible experiences they never thought possible, such as their first swim in the ocean or sailboat ride, despite the amount of equipment that typically accompanies them.
Conducted each year during spring break, the camp activities are all conducted in a medically safe environment, thanks to the help of volunteers and medical personnel from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital who donate their time and services to ensure a safe week for all involved.
Dr. Moises Simpser, pulmonologist with the Division of Pulmonology at Nicklaus Children’s as well as VACC Camp founder and director, has led the camp since its inception in the summer of 1986.
“We are delighted to celebrate 30 years of bringing this experience to these patients and their families,” he said. “We are extremely grateful to all those who have supported VACC Camp throughout the years, including the donors, medical staff, volunteers and community organizations who have donated their time and services to make this a possibility for all involved.
“We hope to continue our mission to provide a place for these patients to be themselves and forget for their medical limitations for a little while,” Dr. Simpser added.
Andrew, a VACC camper who was born with chronic lung disease, is being featured by Miami Children’s Health Foundation in the patient of the month initiative, a series of inspiring stories highlighting children treated at Nicklaus Children’s. Andrew has lived his life connected to a ventilator that helps him breathe and has been receiving treatment at Nicklaus Children’s since he was 3 months old.
Thanks to VACC Camp, he was able to experience and participate in recreational activities that his mom thought he would never be able to do because of his medical condition. Andrew is excited to join the fun at VACC Camp again this year.
Watch his story at www.mchf.org/andrewvacc.
VACC Camp is offered free of charge and is supported by generous donations made to Miami Children’s Health Foundation. For more information on how to support this program, visit www.mchf.org/vacc or call 1-800-987-8701.