Sunday, February 26, 2012

ELSIE and Her Megabrain

by Chuck Jones

The MEGABRAIN and the New Learning Center

We are taking a new approach to increase stroke awareness this year. A year ago we displayed the MEGABRAIN, a large, inflatable, walkthrough model of the human brain, at the Peoria Chiefs baseball game during our June Strikeout Stroke events. This year we are adding a Learning Center, called ELSIE (LC), which will be located in an area near the brain’s exit. Visitors will be able to test their knowledge about strokes and learn a few new things in the process.


Here's a picture of the Megabrain I got off the Medical Inflatables web site at:

 ELSIE will consist of a sixteen square foot display area holding four laptop computers. The four computers are loaded with the same twelve questions to be answered by multiple choice selections via a convenient keypad. The display will provide space for literature, pictures of previous camps and campers, and trinkets if a sponsor decides to provide any.

ELSIE’s and her MEGABRAIN’s first appearance this year will be March 2nd at the Slap Out Stroke Event at the Maverick’s hockey game in the Independence Events Center, Independence, MO., which is near Kansas City, MO.

Then, ELSIE and her MEGABRAIN will appear again, locally, March 10th,  at the Northwoods Mall in Peoria, Illinois. 

I hope to see all you Peoria area supporters there.

Additional appearances are planned for:

May 26th, Diamondbacks baseball game in Phoenix, Arizona,

July   in Colorado,

June 1-3 , Kansas City, Missouri, Women’s Health Fair,

August 3rd, Coralville, Iowa, on Tax Free Day,

September 7-9, Kansas City, Missouri, KC Black HealthFair,

April 20th, Murry, Kentucky, Half Marathon Fundraiser

I hope you can make it to one or more of these events.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Camp Day Three - What Goes On At Camp Anyway

Day Three - Sunday

Sunday, just like Saturday, starts off with a wake-up call at 7am and breakfast at 8.

Following breakfast, around 9 o'clock, we have what we call Affirmation. It's an informal, 45 minute, non-denominational religious service conducted by the Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp staff themselves. You are not required to attend but we offer it as an option for those who like to attend a worship service on Sunday mornings. This has typically been an emotional gathering as survivors and caregivers along with staff and volunteers share their thoughts about God in their lives, how their lives have been influenced by being a part of this camping experience, and encourage and uplift one another with their individual stories.

At 9:45 or so we start what we call the All Camper Games which is a team competition where we divide you campers up into groups to compete with funny and unusual tasks. Your first task as a team is to come up with a good name for yourselves and then make a poster that best describes your group. This one, since the theme for this particular camp was the 1960s and the Beatles,  was inspired by the song Yellow Submarine.

Here are a few of the ridiculous 
things that you will voluntarily do. 

Then, after all these fun and games and a short break to regain your dignity you will participate in another fabulous drum circle led by our music therapist.

The drum circle is really one of the highlights of the camp and campers will get to participate at least twice during the weekend.

After a short break we'll get back together for lunch and a few announcements before we bid adieu. But, before you go, make sure you get the handout that has your picture we took earlier in the weekend along with a list of all your new camper friends and contact information.

Well, that's it for this weekend except for all the hugs and farewells and safe trip wishes as we fly back to our homes. The coming years will have many more camps and you can attend any and all of them, if you choose. You don't even have to wait for a camp in your area. You are welcome to attend any camp we have in the nation. We haven't gone international yet but who knows, interest is growing and we could be anywhere.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Camp Day Two - What Goes On At Camp Anyway

Day Two - Saturday

This is a busy, fun day where a lot gets accomplished. Wake-up call is at 7am and the first thing on the agenda is a good hot breakfast at 8am. Breakfast, as well as every other meal at camp begins with the music therapist leading us in a song of grace and ends with music and a funny skit performed by the volunteers. And again, the volunteers will assist the survivors with getting their meals for the day so you caregivers can enjoy yours knowing they're well taken care of.

After breakfast, activities begin with a forty-five minute educational session at 9am and another at 9:45. We usually have three to four speakers so there are two back-to-back sessions to allow everyone to hear more than one of the speakers. Past topics have ranged all the way from stroke awareness to wind farms to aroma therapy.

After the last education session is a couple of hours of free time. Actually, it's pamper time, where you may do a  craft, be pampered with manicures, massages, foot baths, Wii computer games, fishing and other fun stuff. Don't worry, you won't be bored. Or you can just sit around and visit, but I know you're not going to want to do that 'cause that other stuff is just way too much fun. And, caregivers, you don't have to worry about looking after your survivors or vice versa because volunteers are there to attend to everyone. Then, free time leads right into lunch around noon and you're eating again.

After lunch there will be crafts and games and fishing followed by another discussion group similar to the one you participated in yesterday and, of course, dinner. By the end of the weekend some get the feeling that all we do is eat but that's because the days go so fast it just seems that way. 

Saturday's are special because it's theme night. It is an evening of themed events where you are appropriately costumed and entertained according to your camp's theme. Past camp themes have been magic, cowboy, 1960's, and Academy Awards. We'll be dreaming up new ones for future camps.

One year the theme was cowboys,

another was the 1960's theme where we did the Ed Sullivan Show and the Beatles.

I don't know what future themes will be but we like it to be a surprise, anyway.

Oh, did I mention that we work some Karaoke in there, too? LOL. You'll love it!

Then, there's some more free time after the evening's themed event to help you wind down before bed time.

That's pretty much it for Saturday but then every camp takes on its own personality so almost anything can happen. 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Camp Day One - What Goes On At Camp Anyway

Day one - Friday

Friday is the first day of our weekend camp. To start off, campers begin to arrive at camp around 2pm and the volunteers, who are standing by to greet them, help them unload their luggage, wheel chairs, etc., and direct them to the registration table. There they sign in, fill out any necessary paper work, get their name badges and the weekend’s schedule of events, and get their room assignments.

A volunteer will be standing by to carry their luggage, etc. and help them to their room and to get settled in, if necessary.

The first activity on the agenda, after everyone is accounted for, is the get acquainted drum circle – a favorite of everyone. A trained music therapist conducts the drum circle and everyone is given a percussion instrument of their choice for this session. It is very difficult to explain in words how a drum circle works but suffice it to say the music therapist makes sure everyone gets a chance to use their percussion instrument, has a lot of fun, and many good laughs. This is something you have to experience yourself as it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Following the drum circle is dinner where grace is said, great food is served, usually cafeteria style, songs get sung, everyone is introduced, and a funny skit is performed by the volunteers. Sometimes these are audience participation skits and are so much fun.

A word about meals: Meals are catered and are usually served cafeteria style. Here is where caregivers get a little break. Volunteers assist the survivors with getting their meals and getting them back to the table so you don't have to worry about that. You just take care of yourself and we'll take care of the rest. Well, we'll take care of you caregivers, too, because that's why we're here.  
Following dinner there is some free time to do whatever you want followed by an hour or so discussion group where the survivors meet together in one room while at the same time the caregivers meet together in another. Each person, caregiver and survivor, to the best of their ability, is given time to introduce themselves to their group and share their situation, experiences and progress. These sessions are moderated by an experienced volunteer to make sure everyone has a chance to tell their story.  This is the time caregivers find they are not alone in their experiences plus they get a chance to see others struggling with the same problems they have and get to see how others handle theirs. It also gives the survivors a chance to feel comfortable by being with others like them, to identify with other survivors, to see they are not alone in their experiences and to see, through them, that progress is possible. A similar discussion group is attended on Saturday.

After these sessions, and for those facilities that are capable, we may gather around the camp fire to listen to the music therapist sing a few songs, everyone sings a few songs, and roasts s'mores over the open camp fire. You all know what s'mores are. If not, we’ll show you. After the camp fire, is another free time where campers and volunteers may do a craft, play games, socialize, or just go to their rooms and retire for the night.

Camp quiet time begins at 10pm.