Written by Dr. Lewis Hsu, the SCDAA’s Vice Chief Medical Officer, the abstract below is included in a new article published by the Ochsner Journal. The article addresses and advocates for increased sickle cell awareness at children’s camps.
Background: Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) face unique problems that attendance at a camp with their peers is well suited to address. However, because the staff members at ordinary summer camps are not accustomed to accommodating children with chronic diseases, the potential for significant health consequences exists.
Methods: We searched the literature in PubMed and CINAHL using the keywords summer camp, camp, sickle, and anemia to identify the unique characteristics of camps for children with SCD and the recommendations for care and/or lessons learned.
Results: Published data are limited. Accommodations to avoid triggering sickle vaso-occlusive pain have been developed empirically and extrapolated from other settings. Camp experiences provide peer learning opportunities, positive role models, and a safe area to explore personal growth. The supportive atmosphere of the camp and escape from social stigma are welcome changes from the daily routine. Camp experiences can help with education on self-care and the transition from adolescent to adult healthcare.
Conclusion: Camp offers unique opportunities for care coordination. Camps for children with SCD provide a setting for dissemination of best practices for the disease. Community-based organizations should partner in recruiting young adults with SCD as counselors. Educational material now available could be modified for use in the camp setting. All stakeholders in the care of children with SCD should work in unison to ensure these children enjoy the benefits of summer camp.