Vent Kids of Alabama gathered together for the 12th annual Light the Way Vent Camp at Children’s Harbor’s Lake Martin campus in May 2015. Vent Kids of Alabama, a non-profit organization created by vent parent Kara Bishop in 2002, acts as a support group for families that have children living at home on ventilators. Vent families strive to give their children the best quality of life they can by focusing on the positive things the children can do instead of their limitations. Vent Kids of Alabama’s mission of “families helping families” could not be more evident than during the week at camp. The week-long camp is nothing short of fun for everyone involved.
Based on the premise that children on ventilators deserve to have the camp experience just like their peers, Light the Way Vent Camp was founded in 2004 as a non-traditional camping experience. Although packed with a lot of fun, every moment of the day is not scheduled and all activities that are planned focus on including the entire family. Families experience pool and lake time, boat rides, crafts, family nights, sibling support groups, parent support groups, optional one-on-one time with a licensed professional counselor, and of course food and fellowship.
I have been privileged to be a part of Light the Way Vent Camp for the past 8 summers. As a licensed professional counselor at Children’s Harbor Family Center at Children’s of Alabama, I am fortunate to walk with our vent families during both difficult times and times of great celebration.
—Liz Gunter, Children's Harbor Pulmonary Counselor
At camp, I’m an integral part of the team making the fun happen. My role as a counselor kicks into high gear because I get to provide one-on-one counseling in addition to various support groups with vent families in a camp setting. Making life fun for the campers is a team sport and involves the leadership and teamwork of everybody. In an effort to relieve Kara of some administrative burdens, this year Erin Kattus (pulmonary division social worker), Joy Hardy (pulmonary division child life specialist), and I worked with Kara to create a camp leadership team. Having the opportunity to share some of the responsibility that Kara has shouldered for the past 11 years, showed the families and Kara how much we love Light the Way Vent Camp.
Over the years, Kara’s tireless leadership has allowed the camp to grow and evolve to where this past May marked the largest Light the Way Vent Camp yet with 20 families and over 100 people – we reached full capacity! Plans are already in the works for May 2016 and I can’t wait.