Monday, 30 August 2010

More about camps with a difference

Contributions from Susie Mallett, Mhairi Watson, Yuval Tsur and Tim Ahrens

On 24 August Conductive World reported briefly on the March of Dimes Summer Camp in Ontario a year ago, and hinted –

Accounts of other such experiences, not necessarily in Canada and not necessarily in the the form of 'camps', would make a most useful contribution to other people's attempts to break out of the confines of some current practice.

The following responses exceeded expectations.

From Germany, conductor Susie Mallett  wrote –


We call them Überlegungscamp!

The children and teenagers thought up the name, they thought it was funny, sort of a 'survival' camp. A holiday with conductors, they knew that it would not be a doddle! They took the word from Überlegung, which is what you do when you give something some thought!
We book one of the buildings that schools use when the whole class goes on their yearly trip together instead of spending the week at school. There are plenty of these dotted about the country that are rented out to various groups during the summer holidays. They are well situated with access to various activities, near train stations and bus stops, swimming pools, lakes, beach, parks and sometimes even in the middle of a city.

Over the years this has style of camp has developed. The last two years have seen a rise in the age of the clientele wishing to take part, so what is on offer has changed too.

Last year the group went to Italy and this year, yesterday they went off to the north German coast. There has been more of a Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday feel to it than a survival camp the last couple of years. The "campers" are mostly all old hands, they know the ropes and have a lot of fun.

Holiday living is done conductively. Outings, evening games, crafts, washing, dressing, showering, cinema visits, leaping over waves, visiting a museum, drinking iced tea in a cafe. All that takes place is done with conductors.

Something to interest everyone, just as it is on a group holiday.

From the final day of this year's Ontario camp, conductor Mhairi Watson wrote –

Funny you should choose today to make this posting, Andrew.
As I type I am sitting at overnight camp talking two of our teens through their morning routine. This is the last morning of our overnight camp and the teens have had a blast.

I have just asked Andrea why this camp is important to her and what she gains from it. Mean of me to ask her to be coherent and with it at 7 a.m., I know, but here is her response.

'This camp is important to me because I don't really get any other opportunities like this. Usually when I go away it is with my family and they are always hovering over me and doing pretty much everything for me. Here I get to work on skills to make me more independent. The highlight of my camp was going kayaking yesterday. I found it really relaxing and much easier this year after practising lots of long-legged sitting this month in our regular CE class in Toronto.'

One of our younger boys came to camp with his Dad for the first time this year. Dad has been furiously Facebooking the experience from his iphone each time his child participates in something new, makes a new friend and chooses his new friend over the grown-ups for companionship. I will forward him your link and see if he will share his experience on your blog. This way we can hear their story first-hand.

Time to go, the kids need to pack and get ready for breakfast

Yuval Tsur, Tsad Kadima's Camp Director wrote –

Summer camps of Tsad Kadima run every summer since Tsad Kadima was established 22 years ago. The camps changed their contents over the years. At the beginning, these camps were designed to allow a glimpse of the conductive world for families and their children. Over the years, Tsad Kadima has based frameworks which provide conductive services for all ages in Israel. Currently they are designed for teenagers and young adults aged 14-24. Every summer about 30 young adults meet at Kibuts Hanaton in northern Israel for a week of intensive work. The work combines motor activity and activities with a social orientation. The aims of the camp are several:
  • A social gathering that includes improving social skills and enabling access to the contents related to the world of adults with disabilities (group dynamics, relationships, sexuality, etc.). The camp allows interaction between the young adults in unstructured situation without the mediation of the staff.
  • Maintain the spirit of motivation in the individual-level to continue the never ending work towards improving functional skills.
  • The camps enable new staff to enter the world of adults with disabilities.
The camps are the highlight of the annual activity. They also draw young adults who do not regularly participate in TK's activities. Camps were opened in the past for young adults from abroad. We see this as an opportunity for international meeting and we look forward to such initiatives and convinced that if they carried out, this would be an unforgettable experience. 
The camps are also an attraction for people who do not work or will work with our young adults,. These volunteers become full partners in work and serve as ambassadors of Tsad Kadima everywhere they go.

There is no doubt that today you can not imagine the annual activity without the summer camp. 

I hope that the frequency and the duration of these camps will grow in favour of young adults with disabilities. 

Yuval also forwarded the following impressions of priest Tim Ahrens who was at Kibuts Hanaton by chance and turned from a spectator to an active partner –

For one week at Kibbutz Hannaton, I was blessed to share the dormitory and cafeteria with 32 young adults with cerebral palsy. In addition, over 25 adult staff and volunteers, plus their children, completed this glorious array of 'The Children of Abraham'. They are Christians, Muslims and a beautiful array of Jews. Most of all, they love one another.

Their days were filled with laughter, hugs, singing, high ropes, social activities and moving. They were always on the move! They call themselves 'Tsad Kadima' (A Step Forward).

To me, they are my newest friends in Israel. They welcomed me as family to every activity and meal. I have rarely been so warmly welcomed by complete strangers. Meir, Michal, and Yair took me in. Michal is a lovely young woman who loves everyone. She is amazingly engaging. She would make a great actress. Meir is an athlete and loves conversation and interaction. He is also very funny! I met Yair singing Hip-Hop one night. Moreover, he writes and performs Hip-Hop. He has five of his own Hip-Hop songs on You can find them if you go to MySpace and then cpmc1.

I have wonderful memories of our time together. But, my favourite memory of the group was watching those in wheelchairs and walkers get on to their feet and walk great distances throughout the day. Their training department leader, Yuval Tsur said it best: 'They step forward with love'.

I would add, love plus patience, perseverance and presence.

Thank you so much, all four of you. It is up to readers to draw their own conclusions about what these experiences show in common, in respect both to what is present and what is not. The camping season must be just about over now. 

Does anybody else have any contributions to offer?

1 comment:

  1. And a year-and-a-half later