5 Impactful Take-Aways from My Week at Camp
Cookouts, flip flops, lightening bugs, fireworks, and sipping ice cold sweet tea on a hot day are just a few of the things that make summer such a special time of year. Growing up, one of the items at the top of my summertime to-do list was camp.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to return to summer camp when Wendy Atlizer, owner of Milestones Physical Therapy Inc., invited me to Camp Gizmo to work with her team in the Mobility Lab. Joining us at Camp Gizmo were 25 children and their families for five days in the picturesque town of Romney, West Virginia. They not only participated in fully inclusive traditional camp activities, but they also had the opportunity to participate in specialized programs including parent groups, sibling workshops, and assistive technology (AT) evaluations.
The focus of the evaluations included: mobility, communication, access, vision, hearing, activities of daily living, and recreational needs. The highly experienced staff was comprised of speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special educators, vision specialists, audiologists, early intervention specialists, manufacturer representatives, and complex rehabilitation equipment providers.
It was an action packed and inspiring experience for all parties involved. Here are a few take-aways from my time at Camp Gizmo:
1. Encourage Community
There is nothing more powerful than having a community of people with whom you relate. From a more experienced father sharing his wisdom with a new dad, to mothers exchanging contact information, Camp Gizmo facilitated the creation of priceless lifelong bonds among the families.
2. Motivation = Success
One of the first questions I ask families during an evaluation is "what motivates your child?" During an interview with a little girl's parents, her mother jokingly stated, "She loves boys!" Well, wouldn't you know that same little girl was most successful driving a power wheelchair when the son of a staff member engaged the little girl in a game of chase?
3. Collaboration is Key
In the Mobility Lab our equipment included seating systems, positioning equipment, manual wheelchairs, standers, gait trainers, power wheelchairs, and adaptive bikes. Having all of that equipment at our fingertips was extremely beneficial, but the collaboration and open communication between the families and professionals with variety expertise was what made the trials truly successful. Each family was provided written detailed reports to take back with them to their medical and educational teams.
4. Give it a Whirl
Camp Gizmo gives children the opportunity trial equipment that families may not have known was an option for their child. One little boy I worked with exhibited consistent and purposeful activation of a switch for the first time while experimenting with a power wheelchair. His parents acknowledged he may not be ready for a power wheelchair in the immediate future, but thanks to the experience they now see their son's abilities in a new light.
5. Use Your Noodle (Pool Noodles as Therapy Tools)
I am the queen of creating no-tech or low-tech solutions. In fact, I often get teased about the random items that can be found in my therapy toolbox. After my experience at Gizmo, I may have to buy a larger toolbox, because my latest tool of choice is a pool noodle. They are inexpensive, easily accessible, and customizable positioning devices. Creativity and resourcefulness will get you a long way in life.
Thank you, Wendy and the Camp Gizmo team, for allowing me to become a member of the Gizmo family! Learn more about Camp Gizmo and visit their Facebook page.
And, thank YOU for reading our blog! We love hearing from you, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or share some of your favorite camp memories in the comment section.
Always remember at the end of the day, your client is your number one priority!
Posted by: Date: 7/27/2014 12:00:00 AM
Filed under: Angie