As November comes to a close, we want to recognize and honor all those who care for others as November is National Caregivers Month. Here at Camp Daniel, right after New Years, the phone calls start coming in asking when will camp applications be available. Often, this is followed by a conversation, where a caregiver, usually a parent, shares how tired they are and how they need a break. At some point during our camping season, we will engage with a parent who is overwhelmed by the stress created by living and caring for a child who is living with a disability. For many of our families, their child attending camp is the only break they get through out the year.
We often talk about the benefits of our campers attending camp, but there are benefits caregivers receive by sending their family members to a week of camp. These benefits are both emotional and physical for a caregiver.
- Regaining perspective- a caregiver can have time to step back and re-evaluate life. So often care givers are caught in the day to day demands that they struggle seeing the big picture.
- Identity- caregivers can often lose sight of who they are when caring for persons with disabilities. In reality, caregiving is only one aspect of who a person should be but, over time, it is easy for an individual to devote ones time to just the person living with a disability. While a camper attends camp, a caregiver can rediscover and acknowledge other parts of who they are.
- Ability to socialize– living with a disability is often isolating for the person living with disability and that sense of isolation often carries over to the family. Having a break allows the rest of the family to reconnect with one another and it allows caregivers to spend time with friends without the added pressure of feeling they have neglected the person for whom they are caring for.
- Rejuvenation– Caregiving can be physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting. Having a week off from the daily demands of care giving can help a caregiver cope with the exhaustion.
Many of you are reading this blog and wondering how this may pertain to you. First, if you are a volunteer during our summer camping season, thank you for coming and serving. You have helped give someone a much- needed rest. Remember, summer counselor/volunteer applications will be available starting in late winter or early spring. When you decide to spend a week here at camp, you give a camper and their family an opportunity to experience joy and rest! During the rest of the year, you can build friendships in your local community with families who many need breaks, which can happen through your local church or one of the many organizations in your local community that support persons with disabilities. If you need more ideas, contact firstname.lastname@example.org