The 6th Annual Shriners St Louis Hand Camp was a clear success. As always, the site was Camp Lakewood in Pitosi, Missouri- a YMCA camp. This year, there were 15 families on a perfect weather weekend. The Occupational Therapy staff, among many others, did a great job organizing this wonderful event. Special thanks to OTs Valerie and Stacy who work to make every Hand Camp great.
Brief background on Hand Camp. I believe the idea of Hand Camp (or at least our adopted version of it) is from Dallas Texas and the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. One of the therapists there, Amy Lake, helps to run the show and we have learned much from her and the team. The idea is a weekend of learning and exploring for kids with upper extremity differences and their families. The weekend helps inform the kids that there are many others like them out there and allows them to learn from one another. Likewise, the families can also learn and grow and share. Kids with a variety of differences are included with such differences as symbrachydactyly, radial deficiency, amniotic constriction band, among others. We have funding for a limited number of spots for the kids and their families (including siblings) with much donated time and energy from the Shriners team.
I was joined by Sam (one of our hand fellows), Claire (one of our residents), and Robert (a visiting medical student) for the day. We participated in Group activities in the AM including horseback riding, rock climbing, and archery. Absolutely amazing to watch kids adjust to a challenge and conquer it. Kids figuring out a way to climb the wall and shoot the bow and arrow are probably the most exciting to watch. Some kids jump right in and others take time to work up to it but, either way, fun to witness. Aside from the personal achievement, there is also a group excitement when a child with a limb difference or even a sibling accomplishes a goal at Hand Camp.
My favorite part of these Hand Camp weekends, without a doubt, is the group sessions. Today we were a part of the parent introductory session. After introductions, the floor was opened to discussion about challenges, successes, new schools, and other topics, as well as tricks and tips. Some tears, many smiles, and a general sense of pride throughout the room. For me, these days and these sessions are wonderful as I hear (and I can never hear to often) of the challenges that kids face on a daily basis. For some, an outward personality helps to conquer all while other kids keep quiet and we wonder what they think. I also hear of parent concerns and parent anxiety for their children. I can only imagine but I take these lessons and learn and then call on these discussions when I am back in the clinic environment.
All in all, another wonderful Hand Camp. Great for kids, families, and staff.
|The Whole Hand Camp Group|
|Hand Camp Campers!|
|Hand Camp Junior Counselors|
|Daunting climbing wall. Especially for kids with limited use of one or both hands.|
|Climbing wall, no problem.|
|After conquering the climbing wall, the child is escorted over a narrowing walk to a zip line.|
|One of our many adorable Hand Campers after centralization and pollicizations on both sides.|