Program evaluation of camp V.I.P: Promoting self-confidence and independence for patients with spina bifida

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Camp V.I·P (Victory, Independence, Possibilities) was established by the Spina Bifida Association of Alabama in 2012. The goal is to provide children with spina bifida (SB) and their families a traditional-style summer camp focusing on self-empowerment and fostering independence in medical self-management. Design and methods: Part 1 of this study describes Camp V.I·P. structure. Part 2 describes an online survey to caregivers of campers gauging camp effectiveness and value and evaluating perceptions of confidence/independence and family connections. Camper characteristics were compared to the overall SB clinic population. Results: 63 children with SB, 81 siblings, and over 100 caregivers have attended camp. Campers are similar to the overall clinic population in race, gender, and ambulation status. At camp, there are significantly more children with myelomeningocele (versus other spinal dysraphism) and lumbar functional level (versus thoracic). Survey results show that confidence grew in 93% of campers, and 86% gained greater independence. Parents stated that they created lifelong friendships. The majority of caregivers (91%) indicated “certainty” that they would attend camp again. Conclusion: Camp V.I·P is a family-centered environment that emphasizes respite, nurture, and the continuum between family and clinic. Our research shows that camp can be a useful tool to aid in independence, confidence, and social adaption. Practice implications: Camp has become an integral part of our comprehensive care of children with SB and has been shown to reinforce what is taught through the clinic by creating trust between the care team and campers.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zimmerman K; Williams M; Arynchyna A; Rocque BG; Blount JP; Graham A; Hopson B
  • Start Page

  • 30
  • End Page

  • 35
  • Volume

  • 47