Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lincoln, Nebraska, Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp

I always enjoy camp at Lincoln, Nebraska. Actually the camp is at the Carol Joy Holling, Swanson Center, just outside of Lincoln, in Ashland. I've been to three of them in the last four years. I thought you might like to see what we do there and see the wonderfully crazy, and wonderfully warm, friendly people I meet there.

Our camps are weekend retreats, Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, where stroke survivors and their caregivers get to relax, feel normal, have fun and let us do all the work.

First, I'll introduce you to the campers and volunteers.

See, we had such a good turnout that they don't even fit on the page.

And here is where we camped. At the Carol Joy Holling, Swanson Center.

The building has very comfortable motel style rooms. Each camper couple has their own private room with private bath, and all meals are cooked and served right in the building.

The camp Director and Operations  Manager this year were Larry Schaer and Lauren Kramer, respectively, both from the Peoria, Illinois home office. Larry and Georgia Morris, also from the home office, were in charge of crafts and pampering.

If you've read about the previous camps I've posted on this blog you know that we always open with a drum circle lead by a Music Therapist. This year it was Jenny Denk. She did a wonderful job. She lead the previous years, also.

Jenny also provides music throughout the weekend for skits, mealtime grace and 
post-mealtime fun.

We always have crafts for campers to test their skills. This year we had coffee cups that could be decorated with marking pens and taken home to be baked in the oven to preserve the artwork.

One of the highlights of the craft time was a technique called touch drawing. It involves placing on paper what you are feeling right now. You'll notice the extra protection needed to prevent the paint from becoming a permanent part of your wardrobe. The thick paint is applied to a board and the paper placed on top of that. Then using primarily your hands, you rub, carve, scrape, whatever you are feeling at the moment. After that you can touch up with a stylus as you see here. When the paper is lifted and turned over, the results are some very interesting designs.

Another craft item was a memory board made up of magazine cutouts.

We also set aside time for pampering.

These macho guys got manicures, too

That includes manicures, makeup, massages, beauty tips, and meditation led by a trained... uh ... meditationer? (well, okay, I don't know the official title.) 

During free time we had fishing, 

paddle boating, 


and just plain relaxing and visiting.

We even had a campfire at night for relaxing around, enjoying roasting marshmallows and s'mores.

This year we divided the camp into smaller groups and had them produce videos based on popular 1950's movies. Here's what happens when we let camper imaginations run free:

No, I'm not even going to try to guess what the movie titles were now.

This year's theme was the 1950's and American Bandstand. 

We served our campers dinner 50's diner style.

And invited "Dick Clark" and his co-hostesses to emcee the American Bandstand dance show.

I think some of our 50's music struck a chord with some of our survivors because they couldn't sit still and had to get up and go to it.

After the show we had a live band out on the patio to finish up the night. The band was provided by one of our camp volunteers and Physical Therapist, Cali Carlson. Her father is the guy on the left, and her sister is singing. They entertained us for the rest of the evening with 50's and 60's songs. These kids are good!

This year is our tenth anniversary of providing camps for stroke survivors and their caregivers. We started off with one camp per year in Illinois back in 2004 and have since grown to 20 camps per year all throughout the United States, boarder to boarder. 

Next year we are planning to grow to 25 camps. 

We are also providing stroke awareness to the community through our trademarked Strike Out Stroke (tm) events at Major League and minor league baseball games throughout the country and through our MegaBrain exhibits and Learning Center exhibits at universities, shopping malls and convention centers.

If you would be interested in volunteering to help out at one of our camp please contact us at or phone us at 866-688-5450 or locally at 309-688-5450.


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