This week marked the 5th summer that Pickett Care and Rehabilitation Center in Byrdstown, TN offered Camp Pickett to it’s stakeholders. It’s amazing to look back on something that only began as a small dream and see it grow to fruition.
The summer camp program has been a mainstay of the home because of a few reasons. One of those reasons is the direct impact it has upon the Elders who reside there. After only a few weeks of interaction between the children and Elders, the Elders begin to come to life. The blessing of having children in the home 8 hours each day, 5 days per week has helped to cultivate intergenerational relationships like nothing else can.
The other upside to the program is that it is free to everyone who works in the home. As a mother, I know it meant so much to me to be able to bring my child to work with me. I can remember how this strengthened my own relationships with the Elders in the home. It creates a constant emphasis on family and cultivates that into the atmosphere of the home.
This year Camp Pickett has stretched to 17 Signature HealthCare homes and touched the lives of many Elders and children alike. The vision for the summer camp was to create a place where children could grow and learn in a safe environment while promoting relationships between the generations. It is inspiring to see that vision fulfilled year after year.
While many long term care facilities invite children to visit during holidays, this is a different approach. There is no chance to develop relationships when the meeting between the two is so short and scheduled. When you see children showing up to do learning circles, play the Wii, and conduct a science experiment alongside an Elder, then you see a true relationship begin to take root.
The most amazing part of it all is seeing the joy fill the eyes of those who may have been sad before. The Elders are the primary beneficiary of the program as they love having close contact with the kids on a regular basis. You don’t see loneliness, helplessness and boredom when the summer camp is operating.
Eden Alternative Principle #5 speaks of spontaneity and how we need to create an environment in which unexpected things can take place. There is no environment more geared to make this happen than that in which a child resides.
To follow our summer camps throughout the summer please visit us at our Camp Signature Facebook Page.