Monday, July 9, 2012

CAMP JAKE :: Promoting Active Lifestyles

CAMP JAKE / July 2012 :: It is amazing how quickly time goes by. In only 2 days, our team travels to Haiti to host the second session of Camp Jake. Physical activity is a huge part of our programming for the campers. The variety of activities that promote an active lifestyle are as varied as the children and tailored to their individual abilities.

Physical Therapy
During our many interactions with students from St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children, we have noted the strong connection between them. Not only are they friends and extended family, but they are one another's helpers, providing assistance and guidance in various tangible ways. 
  • We observed the blind pushing the wheelchairs of their non-ambulatory friends.
  • We saw the deaf being the hands and feet of students with missing limbs.
  • We noted those with no limbs interpreting for the deaf. 
  • We saw older campers providing direction to younger campers about safety.
All of these heart-warming sights amazed us, demonstrating the pronounced emotional and physical bonds that these students have with one another. 

These observations led us to partner with Physicians for Peace to engage a physical therapist for camp to teach campers and caregivers alike new exercises that can be utilized on a day-to-day basis, with or without a physical therapist. These exercises will help individuals care for themselves as well as their fellow campers, building muscle strength and increasing mobility. We are thrilled that Jacob, a PT from Virginia, will be on-hand for the week to provide small group and one-on-one training sessions.

We had no idea how important aquatics would become to Camp Jake until our first camp. For many participants, this was their first exposure to a pool or the ocean. Some were fearful while others were cautious but willing to try. After some work with the counselors and much encouragement, campers began to establish a comfort level with the water and their interest in swimming blossomed. We plan to capitalize on this enthusiasm and offer additional aquatics opportunities in the upcoming camp.

Moise enjoying his first dip in the water

Since water has so many therapeutic qualities, it is our goal to encourage campers to continue their exploration of both the pool and ocean, while maintaining the safest environment possible. Often times, part of this engagement is simply teaching them how to float on their backs without fear or how to walk on the ocean floor.

Matt helping the blind get accustomed to the water

Matt, Assistant Camp Director, will be spearheading the water activities during Camp. Among his many jobs, he will review water safety rules and procedures during the counselor training and will enforce the rules with campers throughout the week.

A spontaneous game of soccer

Many lessons were learned during the first camp when we brought every sport known to man for campers to try. After much exploration, we discovered which activities readily engaged the campers and which brought maximum benefit. For this session, we have narrowed our scope to include basketball, soccer, volleyball, jump rope, beach ball and bocce ball in addition to water sports. Our new exploration will be to gauge how much physical activity can be done in the summer Haitian heat!

A big thank you to members of the Tulane University Athtletics Department who have donated baseball hats, t-shirts and sweat bands for the campers. These items will be put to good use!

Yes, we still need your help! If you are interested in contributing to the physical programs or any part of Camp Jake, donations can be made via check or online. Please be sure to mark the memo line with "Camp Jake". For electronic donations, please use the PayPal button located on the right sidebar. If you prefer snail mail, our mailing address is at the top of the page on the right. No donation is too small and everything is appreciated.

Thank you!

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