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.


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