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 Karel's story

 

My first Easter  Camp / retreat


My husband died in December of 1995 and Christine Boyd (provincial coordinator at the time) was helping Blair Clarke and me to start up a Delta branch of Stroke Recovery. During that period of time she invited me to become a volunteer at Squamish.
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 I was 58 and thought I was in a pretty good shape but I had a challenging lesson to learn. The campers' day started with the bell some poor soul was set the task of ringing in all the dorms to make sure all were up and ready for breakfast in time. Their activities began after breakfastThe volunteers had been meeting the night before (after the amateur hour concert) until close to midnight to plan the next day's events. With 3 choices to select from, everyone headed for their particular goal with a buddy and when we reconvened for lunch the room was a buzzin' with enthusiasm. More of the same followed and that evening, a  big dance band played while everybody got on the floor one way or another to move to the music. Many shook their heads indicating they couldn't do it. We showed them  otherwise. Wheelchairs, canes, walkers... the lot had to be navigated in order to “swing your partners”. What a gas. While the campers went to campfire and singalong the volunteers planned Sunday activities into the wee small hours.

      Another full day culminated in a funny money casino night and an auction using their winnings took place with bidders joining others to get whatever prized possession was on offer. Those not too exhausted ended up at the campfire again and the volunteers met to make their selections for the awards to be presented the following morning. Lost track? That was Monday. After breakfast outstanding personalities and those who had achieved the greatest improvement in such a short time were honoured and there I was, along with the rest of the volunteers, with tears running down my cheeks, totally moved by the courage and determination being recognised by everyone there. Wow ! What an emotional  experience.

      I did not know anyone (except for Christine) that first time but I immediately felt like part of a huge extended family. I belonged. It is a place I want to return to yearly. Although I went as a volunteer (except once) I felt part of all the exciting and eye opening events that took place. All the fun, the “light bulb” moments and now, the need to return and catch up on all the friends I have not seen since the previous year. It is exactly like a family reunion and when you see the improvements a year have brought to many you share your expressions of enthusiasm for others making it a perfect experience for everyone. You arrive home exhausted but with the biggest sense of satisfaction you are likely to feel in your entire life. Try it, even by yourself. You'll never regret it.

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