In August of 2008, my son attended his first Asthma Camp at Camp Sierra (at Camp Wowona). He had been diagnosed with asthma at just over 6 months of age and, although he has received treatment for that since then (he is now 11), he never had much exposure to others with the same condition. His experience last year was entertaining and instructive and the contact with others was something he will never forget. When we found out there could be no camp this year due to lack of funding, he was devistated. I had really hoped he could get refreshed every year, if nothing else, just to reunite him with those living with the same limitations and learn how to make the most of life despite that.
For the past four years I have been a Medical Staff Volunteer for Yosemite Ridge Camps. I have had the pleasure of working at all the youth camps and some of the Family Camps. All these programs offer a wonderful experience for children with life altering illnesses and their families. The beauty of Yosemite National Park provides an exceptional venue for all the camps. Here the children learn that they can lead a full and rewarding life even with their medical challenges. They can enjoy all the fun of camp activities in a safe and supportive environment. They also have an opportunity to learn about their illness and how to improve their management through classes provided by specialist as well as share their experiences with peers who have the same challenges. These camps also provide a chance for the medical staff volunteers to leave their offices and hospitals, and see these children live outside of a clinical setting. To see that severe asthmatic climb up to the top of Vernal Falls, or a chid with seizures enjoy swimming with friends after he conquered climbing the rock wall. The smiles, the laughter, the joyous shouting of success or just plain fun are priceless.
With fewer of these opportunities over the past 10 years, and even *less* right now, Asthma Camp helps us deal with real society problems. Kids enjoyed education with their comradarie of kids with same issues. My son was psych'd to use his new knowledge to take care of himself at home...and teach us! Later, we got to Family camp, which was also awesome. Again, mix education with hearing other family's experiences, mistakes, and successes. Great support volunteers! This is the right way to take care of society's problems, in this case, Asthma and poverty...but it has to be consistent.
My son has visited Yosemite ridge for 3 years in a row for his Asthma. He loves it! This camp truely is a miracle worker. He looks forward every year to summer because of this camp. He was devistated when he found out this year had been canceled. My whole family also attended a weekend family asthma camp. This has been a very rewarding exprience because the whole family learns about asthma in a fun way. I would have to recommend this camp 100%.
I attended Camp Sierra as many years as was available to me and enjoyed every minute I was up there. It is a great experience for kids with asthma to take part in activities they probably would not get a chance to do any other place, or that they thought they weren't capable of. I made many good friends through yosemite ridge and even got my younger cousin to start going when he found out he had asthma. It is still to this day some of the best experiences of my life and even had me find a path I wanted to take in college to becoming a respiratory therapist. I even went back to volunteer as a counselor and would have enjoyed that very much if a last minute surgery hadn't prevented me from making it up.
I learned about Yosemite Ridge while I was doing research on childhood asthma among Mexican-Americans in the San Joaquin Valley. The camp afforded me the opportunity to spend time with families and professionals who were dealing with childhood asthma, and especially those who were having difficulty controlling it. Many of the families had no knowledge about asthma before attending camp. They quickly learned about the causes and treatment of asthma. Maybe even more importantly they had FUN! So many children are overprotected when they have asthma. These children learned to swim, hike, ride a horse--even rock climb. And they love it!
When I found Yosemite Ridge at Camp Wawona, my son and I were very excited to attend a family camp for Camp Sierra. While my son had tons of fun with other children, the parents sat in classes learning about our children's asthma. It was very educational and informative. My son was hooked and he was invited to attend camp. I was a little worried until I found out that there was a complete, volunteer medical staff on sight. I left my son in their care and he had a blast. There were constant planned activities at all times. He had no time to miss me and become homesick. He wanted to go back the following year only I told him since the camp is free to all children, it was time to give back to what they have given us. I asked to be a volunteer and do whatever was asked of me. What an enjoyable I time I had! I got to witness just what all the fun alal of the campers were having. The camp ground itself is so very beautiful and great cabins. The dining room was very clean and the food was delicious. My son is hoping to be a camper again and I would love to volunteer again and my son hopes to be a volunteer when he is old enough. We love the camp and we also love Melanie, the camp director. She is doing a excellent job being the camp director.