Monday, August 17, 2009

Camp JAM

We got back from Camp JAM (Juvenile Arthritis Matters) yesterday and I'm still downloading pictures to share from our amazing time there. The time and effort (and volunteer hours!) that went into planning this is mind-boggling. When we arrived, they had our main meeting room decked out in a Hawaiian theme. We got our cabin keys, a map and "treasure hunt" and had our picture taken and each child got to pick out a brand new backpack. After having a little snack, we used our treasure hunt clues to find different areas of the camp. At several stops the kids got to pick out a treat. At one stop we got new water bottles; at another they got Leis. It was a great way to find our way around. After unloading everything (we had to use a wheelbarrow to get our things to the cabin) we met back in the dining room for dinner. Hamburgers, potato salad, fresh veggies. Our first meeting was at 7 and all the counselors, staff and volunteers were introduced.

Then the most amazing thing happened. They introduced an older couple who had donated money to make this camp possible. They had all the kids affected with JRA come up to the stage and as each one walked across, they handed the woman a flower. After all the kids were on the stage, each child was presented with a gift bag filled with a handmade quilt that ONE WOMAN made! I think half the moms were crying or ready to cry! Each quilt was different. Each quilt suited the child's age and gender. I was so amazed. I'll have to get a good picture of the quilt and post it. All the pictures I took were indoors and it was dark, so not very good focus.

On Saturday the kids were grouped by age/grade and went with counselors while the parents were in meetings. Our morning session was "okay" because I spent most of it interpreting for super-hero. I didn't think that our sessions would be that involved. This one was on stress and the one on Sunday was so much better. They brought in a naturopath doctor and he talked about anti-inflammatory foods and what foods are best for people with autoimmune disease (which actually benefits 2 of my children!) Saturday afternoon we got family free time and the boys got to go fishing; did archery; rockclimbing; had sno cones; watched part of a movie and Romania played shuffleboard! While super-hero did that with the boys, I went with Egypt to a bouncy house then took her swimming and we met up for the sno cones. The day was jam packed with fun. After dinner on Saturday, we had a talent show that all three kids participated in. Romania sand (or rather recited) "The Alphabet of Nations" song; Egypt sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and Holland balanced a pen on his nose and then the audience started singing "Take me out to the ball game". After singing songs around a campfire and eating s'mores (see how much we did??), they brought in a woman who was a fire dancer. She had these small bowls that she lit from the firepit and swung them around. It was totally dark and was the coolest thing. She said she practiced over a year with beanbags before trying it with fire.

Sunday's session with the Naturopath was so informational. That was almost my favorite part of the camp (sno cones might be a close second). After packing up our cabin, we met one last time for goodbyes and each camper got a special "JRA" pin. The kids are already looking forward to next year.

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