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Camp SuperKids in its 22nd year

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Kim Walter/Daily Cecilia Bockrath, 12, of Front Royal, takes part in a musical therapy session during Camp SuperKids at Hunting Ridge Retreat in Winchester on Tuesday. While learning an instrument, campers were also able to work on their lung capacity.

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Kim Walter/Daily Jaeger Eackles, 7, of Front Royal, prepares to blow into a Peak Flow Meter as the camp’s education director, Sarah Jawaid, looks on. The meter helps asthmatics monitor their breathing throughout the day.

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Kim Walter/Daily Knorr Hunter, 11, of Front Royal, participates in a relay race during Camp SuperKids at Hunting Ridge Retreat in Winchester on Tuesday.

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

For the 22nd year, Camp SuperKids is taking place at Hunting Ridge Retreat in Winchester to benefit children with asthma on a physical, educational and social level.

Monday through Wednesday, 46 youths have had a full schedule of activities, from outdoor games and swimming to crafts and information sessions. The camp welcomes kids from 6- to 12-years of age. The 6- to 8-year-olds are day campers, while the older participants stayed overnight.

Rhonda Brooks, the camp's director, has been a part of the camp since its inception. She also had asthma as a child, which was part of the reason she saw the need for something like Camp SuperKids.

"The camp lets them know that they aren't alone, that there are plenty of other kids in the exact same boat," Brooks said.

While levels of asthma severity differs between children, the overall impact is meant to be the same.

"We want them to have a normal camp experience, just like any other kid," she said.

The camp is supervised by medical professionals, and campers have "med calls" twice a day to help them keep up with medications. Each child will also leave camp with a Peak Flow Meter to help monitor their breathing.

Education director Sarah Jawaid said a big part of camp is making sure children understand how to control their asthma and stop attacks before they even start.

Over the three days, the kids will have six education sessions which cover the basics of asthma and breathing, as well as signals and triggers.

"We put a lot of emphasis on getting them to know their medications and possible side effects," Jawaid said. "They all learn how to use the Peak Flow Meter which will show if they have good control of their asthma or if some action needs to be taken."

Campers also have a wrap up session on living with asthma.

"We feel that with the proper treatment plan, every one of these kids can live to their full potential," said Brooks.

The camp is sponsored by Valley Health and Winchester Medical Center Foundation, which help to offer the experience "at a minimal cost," Brooks said. However, a majority of this year's campers qualified for scholarships.

"You'd be surprised how many of these kids have never been to an overnight camp like this before, and parents actually feel comfortable leaving them here," she added.

The camp is offered to any child in the health region, but a few participants came from Maryland and other parts of Virginia.

"These kids aren't defined by their medical issues," Brooks said. "Hopefully here they realize that they are the ones in charge, not their asthma."

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