The following is an email that one of our Stroke Camp stroke survivors, John Kindschuh, sent us. He does an excellent job describing what all of our camp attendees experience and enjoy. I want to share it with you in case you have been thinking about joining us sometime but were not quite sure what we are all about, and let him show some of the things available at our camps. In his article John is referring to the family camp is unique in that we include children. So far we do a family camp only in Illinois. Our other camps around the country are for adults only.
*****************************************************************From: John Kindschuh
Date: August 18, 2021 at 4:41:45 PM CDT
Subject: Re: Newsletter: Stroke Camp
I am so grateful that we attended Stroke Camp this year. The retreatants, caregivers, volunteers, and coordinators are exceedingly understanding to those of us with disabilities; I wish that all members of our society would treat me with respect. I cannot say enough good things about Stroke Camp, as it is one of the best weekends, if not the highlight, of my entire year.
While at stroke camp, we do lots of fun things. Among other things, we play team games (water balloon throw, tossing frisbees, sack races, etc.), perform skits, have campfire activities, receive massages, swim, break out into survivor and caregiver groups, perform drum circles, and attend presentations. The kids play with volunteers when we are busy, so the staff already has thought of having built-in childcare when the adults are unavailable. The patience required by all parties is astronomical. It was nice that we can do things at a slower pace with people who truly understand our limitations.
It recently struck me that Stroke Camp is about building community. It is like a family reunion of sorts, as we are interacting with people that I usually see only periodically. These people not only understand me, but also are my friends. Lifelong friends.
For more information about the origins of Stroke Camp, I encourage you to read Sarah Christy’s book Keep Going. Sarah was the director of the family camp for over 10 years. In this book, she explores the creative thought behind Stroke Camp.
II. Why I Love Stroke Camp
There are dozens of reasons why my family and I adore Stroke Camp, but I wanted to identify five of these considerations for your reflection.
1) Entire Family. We attend the family camp, so Cindy and our three children are welcome to come. Usually only I attend various stroke events, so happily, my entire family is also able to experience this weekend. This spirit of inclusivity is a rarity.
2) All Ages. When I first attended, I was shocked because I was not the only young person there. I interacted with a young man who had his stroke when he was 18 years old. I also talked with a woman who had a stroke when she was 41 years old. Granted, I usually have the youngest children there, but for the first time since my stroke, I felt I was among people my own age.
3) Acceptance. I feel “normal” during the entire time of camp. People listen to me and wait for me to walk slower. Sadly, people in our society do not prioritize patience, and therefore, they marginalize stroke survivors. Happily (and often unusually), I feel as if I make a significant difference here.
4) Challenges. We are encouraged to try things that we have never done before. For example, this year I tried archery (Editor note: not available at all camps). I described the following on Facebook: “Family Stroke Camp is one of the highlights of my year for many reasons. For example, I am encouraged to try something new instead of giving up simply because of my stroke. I thought that I would never have the coordination to do archery again; there is no way that I could have stabilized a bow much less fired an arrow even six months ago. It was an understatement to say that I was excited to hit the target three consecutive times! I encourage you to never give up and not be defined by any limitations.”
5) Other Families. My children interact on a regular basis with other families who struggle with stroke. One year, I met a father who had a stroke two weeks after his daughter was born. Another year, I talked with a man who had a stroke while his wife was pregnant. Significantly, my children are able to see other families that manage life with a stroke as we are not the only people dealing with these ramifications.
Importantly, if you know someone who could benefit from this experience, please share this email with him or her. For additional information, refer to the following website: https://www.strokecamp.org/.
Additionally, if you are interested, you can read an April 2018 article highlighting my entire family during a Stroke Camp: