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  • Severe dermatological conditions prove to be no limitation for the children of Camp Horizon By Karen Cavaliere Zitomer D Only r. Andrea Zaenglein could not believe her eyes and ears as she watched the fearless 12-year-old on Skin Deep camp. But Zaenglein was soon to discover just how wrong she was. Over the course of that week, the girl conditions. Founded in 1993, it is held at three locations under different names across the country: Camp Knutson in Minne- Dr. Andrea Zaenglein attends to a camper with atopic dermatitis. the stage, passionately reciting the lines of shattered all the concerns that Zaenglein sota, Camp Dermadillo in Texas and Camp Lady Macbeth. and others had. Even though the repeated Horizon, a 35-acre campsite in Millville, Pa., As the girl basked in the talent show blistering of her hands had caused her where Zaenglein has volunteered since 1997. For many participants, it is the first time as atopic dermatitis and alopecia areata, a a counselor with psoriasis to discuss how audience’s standing ovation, Zaenglein fingers to fuse together in what is called they are able to enjoy themselves in a social condition that causes campers to lose all of the disease has impacted them when dating. remembered when the girl had stepped “mitten deformity,” the girl was able to Campers Feel Comfortable situation in which they do not need to be their hair, to severe genetic conditions like But overall, camp is meant to be a place off the bus only a week before to start her paddleboat with her friends, tie-dye shirts Under the expert care of nurses and derma- self-conscious about their appearance. the scaling disorders lamellar ichthyosis and where the kids come to have fun, where their first day at Camp Horizon. Zaenglein had and “kick booty” in a karate demo. tologists like Zaenglein, the camps offers “It is also the first time for some of our epidermolytic hyperkeratosis and the blister- disease is not the focus.” been worried that the girl’s severe genetic “In meeting her, I realized that the participants aged 10–16 the opportunity to campers to meet another person with the ing disease epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Zaenglein says the most rewarding part dermatological blistering disease would limitations of these children are what same skin disorder,” says Annie Houser, Zaenglein says that having a severe skin of her work is that it gives her an opportu- seriously limit her ability to function at the others expect of them, not what they are director of Camp Horizon. “Can you imagine disorder of any type can be devastating psy- nity to give emotional support to children capable of doing,” “ I realized that how that must feel? I have seen lifelong chologically and socially to a child. “Unlike whose conditions she cannot cure in her said Zaenglein, friendships develop over these meetings and the vast majority of much more physically professional capacity. “Most of the disorders associate professor the limitations sharing of camp experiences.” Houser is also severe disorders, skin diseases are visible that we see at camp do not have great treat- of dermatology and adjunct faculty at Penn State Harrisburg, to everyone. You cannot hide from them. ments, and there are no cures. Camp is often pediatrics at the of these children teaching cultural anthropology in the School Children as a whole do not like to stand out the best thing I can offer to the child and Penn State Milton of Behavioral Sciences and Education. and be different,” she said. family,” she said. S. Hershey Medical are what others After serving as a counselor for her first For this reason, activities at the camp are Perhaps 12-year-old camper Hannah Center. two years, Zaenglein has been medical standard for any summer camp—swimming, March sums it up best. Hannah, who has This is the great- expect of them, director for the past eight years. Because biking, fishing, arts and crafts—although ichthyosis, a very dry, scaling skin condi- est lesson Zaenglein of the unique medical conditions campers there are certainly opportunities for campers tion, has been going to the camp for three has learned working not what they are have, the medical staff ensures that camp- to discuss the particular challenges of their years. She said: “I love the environment at with Camp Horizon. ers’ medications are administered and that skin conditions. camp. You can always feel comfortable no The camp is part capable of doing.” their health care needs are met. Parents and matter what.” of the American guardians fill out medical forms in advance Disease Not the Focus Academy of Derma- spend a week among other young people and of the camp so that Zaenglein and her staff “There are plenty of informal gatherings and For more information: tology-sponsored even counselors who have similar skin con- can get to know each camper’s needs before one-on-one discussions regarding individual Dr. Andrea Zaenglein Camp Discovery ditions. Campers attend for free, thanks to he or she arrives. disorders,” says Zaenglein. “The kids with EB azaenglein@hmc.psu.edu program, which offers a summer camping full scholarships provided by the American Zaenglein has seen everything from compare pros and cons of specific bandages. On the Internet Campers enjoy s’mores. experience to young people with serious skin Academy of Dermatology. extreme versions of common disorders such The campers with psoriasis may meet with http://www.campdiscovery.org 6 Penn State Outreach Magazine Spring 2008 / 7