Trail's Edge Camp

Trail’s Edge Camp is a summer camp for children who are ventilator-dependent. Opened in June 1990, Trail’s Edge is a place where campers enjoy typical camp activities, including horseback riding, fishing and pranks. Campers five to 18 years old enjoy a week of adventure that is full of friendship, independence and life. It's a place where they meet kids who face the same challenges that they do, where they are not different, where the word “can” replaces “can’t” and where the impossible can become reality.

In addition to benefits for the campers, the week of camp also provides parents with a much-needed respite from the difficult tasks inherent in caring for their child. In most cases, it is the only break they get in the course of a year.

Trail’s Edge Camp is staffed by volunteers and funded through donations. There is no cost to the campers or their families. Camp is held during the first full week in June at the Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning, a beautiful barrier-free camp on 200 acres in Mayville, Michigan. The facility is beside an inland lake, which makes boating, fishing and swimming an important part of the fun for campers.Campers also enjoy horseback riding, archery and tree climbing in the Craig Van Laanen Tree House.

Trail’s Edge Camp is limited to 32 campers. Eligible children are between five and 18 years old, and must be ventilator-dependent for at least part of the day or night. They must also be able to interact and communicate with other children using speech or sign language.

Craig Van Laanen Tree House

Climbing a tree and exploring a tree house are rites of passage for many children. For ventilator-dependent children, that can seem like an impossible dream. For those attending Trail’s Edge Camp, it’s a reality each June.

The first-of-its-kind tree house and woodland retreat is named in memory of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital's respiratory therapist Craig Van Laanen. Using a special harness and pulley system, ventilator-dependent children are lifted safely off the ground without their wheelchair and into the branches of a large red maple tree. When they reach the tree house, campers are lowered into track-mounted chairs, allowing them to move around the entire structure. Specially designed railing gives campers a safe, unobstructed view of the Fowler Center woodlands from their mobile seats.

The tree house was built by dedicated volunteers and through the contributions of many including the Philoptochos of the Greek Orthodox Church, Mott Children’s Hospital, Christopher Reeve Foundation, Detroit Red Wing Alumni Association and the Craig Van Laanen Foundation.

You Can Help

Trail’s Edge Camp is made possible by a team of generous volunteers, many of whom are nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech pathologists, child life specialists and physicians who bring all of their energy and enthusiasm, and work tirelessly to ensure that the campers have the best week of their lives.

The camp is funded by contributions from generous donors, a grant from the FRIENDS of University of Michigan Hospitals and the Zukey Lake Tavern Golf Outing.

For more information about volunteering or contributing to Trail’s Edge Ventilator Camp, contact:

Trail’s Edge Camp
C/O Mott Respiratory Care, 8-714
1540 E. Hospital Dr. SPC 4208
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-4208

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