VACC Camp 2018: An Amazing Camp for Special Needs Children in Miami

Those of you who know me, know what VACC Camp means to me. My first experience at the camp was when I documented it back in 2011. Since then, I've not been able to stay away, returning every year with camera in hand. This year was no different.

For those of you who don't know, VACC Camp (which stands for Ventilator Assisted Children Center) is a free week-long overnight camp for ventilation assisted children (children needing a tracheostomy ventilator, C-PAP, BiPAP, or oxygen to support breathing). The camp is hosted each spring in Miami by Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Overnight campers and their families come from throughout the United States and internationally to engage with peers and enjoy activities not readily accessible to technology dependent children. Many South Florida volunteers give up their Spring Break to be of service to these children and their families.

The camp, which celebrated its 32nd anniversary this year, was founded by Dr. Moises Simpser, who was the Director of the Divisions of Pulmonology and Pulmonary Care at the hospital before losing his fierce battle with cancer just a few months ago (you can watch a tribute video I produced HERE). The camp was renamed the Dr. Moises Simpser VACC Camp in his memory and despite the loss of Dr. Simpser's larger than life presence at the camp, 2018 was another memorable year; the first under the camp's new Director, Dr. Maria Franco. Surely, Dr. Simpser was looking down, smiling. And as usual, I brought along my camera and snapped a few (hundred) photographs. Enjoy...


Day one is about the campers arriving and getting acclimated to the volunteers (and vice versa!)


The Annual trip to Shake-A-Leg, the premier South Florida destination that utilizes the marine environment to improve the health, education and independence of children and adults with physical, developmental and economic challenges...

Nikki Beach

Many of these children never get to go to the beach but with the help of the Miami Beach Fire Department, "Beach Day" is one of the most popular days...


"Pool Day" is probably my favorite day - watching campers lowered into a swimming pool (many of them for the first time) makes this one of the most memorable days...


Ain't no party like a VACC Camp party. And when it's over, some people need to be cooled off...


The last day of camp is always a highly emotional one as campers, their families and the volunteers say farewell to each other. But it's also a celebration of the week that was and all the special moments that occurred by the proverbial minute in this remarkable camp. For many of these campers (and many volunteers), this week is the best week of the year so it's hard to say goodbye.

I hope the images I shared illustrate how special this camp is to so many. VACC Camp exists solely on charitable donations so please consider making one if you feel so compelled; visit vacccamp.com to do so. And feel free to share this post with others, you might just be responsible for the next camper at this amazing camp...


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