The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care
On June 6, 1990, 48 volunteers and 18 campers began the first camp for ventilator dependent children. Trail's Edge Camp was created as a suggestion by a parent of a ventilator dependent child. Exhausted from the rigors of caring for a medically fragile child, she felt desperate for a break. She described the need for a few days in which her son would have a good time and she and her husband would be relieved of the enormous challenges of his care. Touched by her plea, respiratory care practitioners and other medical professionals from the University of Michigan Center, under the guidance of the Pediatric Respiratory Care Department, spent the next ten months, fund raising, planning, and recruiting volunteers to make that plea a reality. That first session of Trail's Edge Camp far exceeded everyone's expectations. The families felt rejuvenated, campers had made new friends, experienced nature and had the time of their life, especially with the pranks. The medical professionals who volunteered shed tears when they said good bye and spoke of ?next year?. And so for the following nine years the fund raising, recruiting, and hours of planning and training have led to one successful year after another.
Over the decade the numbers have changed. This year 29 children attended camp with 90 volunteers. But the spirit and energy that flourished that first year continues. A tree, planted ten years ago to mark the event, has grown, and so have the campers, three will graduate from high school this year, several have already graduated, and one is in college. Emotionally and spiritually we have all grown together, bonded by a special magic, the magic of summer camp.
For the respiratory therapists who began Trail's Edge Camp, what started as a way to give, became the most rewarding facet of their career. We learned, as so many volunteers have learned, that you receive ten fold what you give. Our lives and our careers so much ?richer? because of our camp experiences, experiences that have made us ?barrier free?.