Children’s of Alabama and the Spina Bifida Association of Alabama teamed together this past weekend for Spina Bifida Camp V.I.P. Take 6 at Children’s Harbor on Lake Martin. It was the largest number of campers since the camp began with 34 families represented and more than 200 people in attendance! The campers and their families got to do fun, confidence building activities such as adaptive water skiing and water tubing. They got to participate in bonding events such as a dance party, camp fire smores, and pool party. They also got to learn new skills and get medical advice on things like self catheterization, Zumba dance class, and orthotic braces. From the time the campers arrive, they are met with people cheering as they pull up, red carpet, and paparazzi! They are treated like VIPs all weekend and they are showered with gifts and love. Once they get to their cabins, they find a cooler with snacks and games that is there’s to take home as well as camp t-shirts and beach towels. Their linens and all things needed for the weekend are provided. The camp ends with a closing ceremony where each camper is given a certificate of award for something specific to them or a new skill they have learned over the weekend, a Christmas ornament with their favorite camp memory inside, and a family photo. This camp is truly a life changing weekend for all who attend. Because it is a family camp, there is tremendous focus on the siblings of the child with special needs who often feels left out. The parents also have the opportunity to connect and learn from each other! The weekend is an emotional time in the best possible way. Children who typically feel like no one completely understands them get to be surrounded by other children who share a similar journey. Parents get complete respite from the daily challenges of their lives and express tremendous gratitude for new friendships and support.
Betsy Hopson, Spina Bifida Program Coordinator served as the Camp Director.
Missy Potts, Nurse Practitioner in the CVICU served as the Dock Manager.
Nadine Bradley, Nurse Clinician in Neurosurgery served as the Head Camp Nurse.
Leigh Boyd, Nurse Clinician in Urology served as the Catheterization Instructor and lead one-on-one teaching/training.
Morgan Dew, a Pediatric Nurse in Neurosurgery served as a volunteer and participate in many of the planning activities leading up to camp.
Jenna Wrightson, Nurse Clinician in Neurosurgery served as a volunteer and helped set up the camp ground prior to campers arrival.
Dr. Blount- Pediatric Neurosurgeon spent the day with campers on Saturday.
Each of these volunteers served with a heart and spirit that fully embodies the mission of COA! They worked tirelessly during the weekend and prior to the campers arrival. It is so evident that this is not a “job” to any of them but instead a tremendous calling!