Our mission is to provide camps and programs at no cost for pre and post transplant children, teens, young adults and their families from Alabama and neighboring states.
We create a fun and educational environment for heart, kidney, liver, and lung transplant recipients that encourages positive self image and healthy transplant living.
Those served receive and provide peer support and form lasting friendships to better cope with the unique challenges of transplantation.
As children growing up with the reality of dialysis and multiple surgeries, Birmingham teenagers Laura Brunson and Bryan Jeffers understood the challenges of living with kidney failure and transplantation. In early 1993, Brunson and Jeffers, along with their parents, conceived the idea of a camp to bridge the gap between a childhood of chronic illness to a young adult life of health and productivity.
The idea blossomed with seed money from Ben Russell and the guidance of Dr. Ed Kohaut and Dr. Mark Benfield, chairman of the department of pediatric nephrology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With a small group of volunteers and six teenage kidney patients, Camp BRIDGES hosted its first camp in the summer of 1993.
Over the next ten years, Camp BRIDGES grew to serve hundreds of children and teenagers across the southeast with solid organ transplants, including kidney, lung, liver and heart, as well as those awaiting transplantation. In 2002, Camp BRIDGES received 501(c)3 status as a non-profit organization under the name of The BRIDGES Foundation. The number of camps expanded steadily to include a week-long teen camp, a young adult camp, a family camp, and a camp for children who receive life-sustaining dialysis treatments for chronic kidney failure. Campers and their families are offered a camp experience at no cost where they are provided medical compliance information, financial guidance, counseling, nutritional assistance, peer support, socialization, and recreation. Our camps are located on the beautiful Children’s Harbor campus on Lake Martin, Alabama.
Today, Camp BRIDGES also offers a Higher Education Scholarship Program, a transition program, and an annual educational conference for patients and their families.The memory of Laura Brunson and Bryan Jeffers is preserved in the mission, programs and spirit of Camp BRIDGES.