August 11 was the first day of the annual Camp SuperKids in Stillwater, New Jersey—featuring slow-mo kickball, asthma education, and a medical staff of fifteen. Asthma camp is a popular summer choice in a city with an asthma rate of over 10 percent. Plus, “80 percent of the kids have food allergies, 10 percent of them life-threatening—the dairy, peanuts,” says camp director Carol Chu. The 86 campers have lots of fun. “Many asthma medications are stimulants, so the kids can be a little nutsy,” Chu says. Four of them spoke to Arianne Cohen.
JASSIAH WINSTON, 9, CLAREMONT, THE BRONX
Do you have bad asthma? No, just a little.
So how’d you end up here? I wanted to go to sleepaway camp, and if I can’t breathe, I think they’ll help me.
Who? There’s a whole bunch of nurses. We take our medicines in the little house over there. I go with my cabin and wait in line.
What medicines do you take? Flovent in the morning and night, Singulair at night, Albuterol whenever I feel I can’t breathe, and Asmanex at night and in the morning.
HAILEY GOLDSMITH, 10, WHITESTONE, QUEENS
What’s the best part of the week? I like dodgeball, since it’s not allowed at school. And I’m looking forward to the dance on the last night.
What’s your asthma like? I have very bad asthma. I went to the hospital four times in ten days earlier this year.
What do you do at night here? Yesterday, me and my counselor and my friend Kristin were all dancing to an iPod to singers I like.
Who’s your favorite singer? My favorite singer is actually a country singer. His name is Bruce Springsteen.
DANIEL RIJOS, 8, NEWARK
How did you end up at SuperKids? Every day after lunch I go to the school nurse to take my pump. I have a lot of asthma.
Any asthma attacks here yet? Only chest pains. My mom and my dad and my little sister have asthma, too.
What’s your favorite camp activity? Pillow fights! Today my cabinmates and I were having a pillow fight. I love pillow fights because you can actually hit people. And then people hit you.
MATTHEW WITMAN, 10, POUGHKEEPSIE
How bad’s your asthma? Mine’s just mild.
What’s mild mean? I get it mostly during spring—that’s because of pollen.
Who’s your best friend at camp? [Silence.] I can’t remember his name. I keep forgetting.
Where are you coming from? Asthma education. What I would’ve learned is how asthma affects your organs. But my dad’s a doctor, so I already understand.
What are you known for in your cabin? I’m smart.