I accompanied Karel and Alice Mcsweeney on their recent visit to Camp Squamish.
As a returning camper, I tended to notice anything that has changed "since the old days". The biggest change is that the dining hall/meeting room has a brand new wooden floor. It gleams, it is so new! The tables were not set up; just 12 table top circles stacked against a wall. I hope it will stand up well to the traffic of wheelchairs and walkers, and moving tables around!! (the dance is held in this same space).
Also in this building I believe the washrooms have been changed a bit. The kitchen access is changed for picking up meals. The shelf you run the trays along has been moved in front of the kitchen, in front of the sliding closure. Apparently there are now stations where the camper will pick up salads, hot food, rolls etc. Basically I guess it is more organized, and won't require as much hands on attention by the kitchen staff.
I was very excited to tour the facilities again, and can't wait for a chance to return there as a camper again. Another newish addition is a separate building for arts and crafts. The building is not new, but we rarely used it, except to sometimes play indoor sports like chair hockey. This could still be done there, but there is more scope for doing various kinds of crafts.
Now to describe the two sleeping lodges. The total number of beds there is 135. This would include housing for volunteers and facilitators who would be staying overnight. Some rooms are upstairs in both buildings. The staircase is quite steep with only ONE SIDED HANDRAILS, so we can only have very fit strokers housed up there. Most of the beds are in rooms that hold six people. Some beds are "hospital beds" which can be raised or lowered if needed, and also have hand railings. There are also two rooms per building which would be suitable for a couple who want to share a room. Otherwise the rooms would hold (up to) six women or 6 men.
Each separate "lodge" is centred around a spacious living room, with a gas fire burning on chillier days. The rooms are quite near the living room common area, so as a courtesy for sleeping campers, a quiet hour is agreed on the first evening. For those night owls or those with more energy, there is a sheltered camp fire pit very close to the dining hall, where most nights people will gather, often joining in sing alongs, roasting marshmallows or just watching the flames from the wood fire. There appears to be some new seating in this area now.
Back at the lodges, the bathroom facilities are down the hall. (upstairs and downstairs. ). The showers are only downstairs (or at the pool). For wheelchair showering, only the women's bathroom is large enough to fit wheelchairs. So if a caregiver wants to give their partner a shower, it means checking out if the area is occupied, then announcing themselves; as in--" heads up in there- Carol and Victor entering for a shower"!! There is a privacy curtain around the showers, so no danger of being disturbed. It is not what we are used to at home, sharing bathrooms with more than our immediate families, but it is a camp weekend and an adventure. So we adapt .
Another popular activity is exercising in the indoor heated pool. In past years, there have been sessions on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There are volunteers around to assist, both in the change rooms and in the pool. For some this might be their first time in a pool since their stroke. Walking in the water just feels great. because of the extra buoyancy. An instructor leads an adaptive aquasize program for those who want to participate.
Don't forget the big dance on Saturday night. They have usually invited a 9 piece big band swing and other old time music. They always really enjoyed playing for us; driving up and back from Vancouver for the gig. I hope they will still be willing to come again. Everyone gets up and dances; or wheels around. Even those siting on the sidelines can be seen tapping their toes, and admiring the moves of their fellow campers. I always say my best dance move is to just hang on and hug my partner tight, and just sway if balance or footing is questionable! I think most everyone really enjoys the dance, and comes away in a good mood afterwards.
There are a lot of other (optional) activities during this four day weekend. One evening there is a "funny money" casino night with adapted games of skill and luck. Traditionally we have had an Easter bonnet activity , followed by an Easter bonnet fashion parade on Sunday. Often there has been small outings to nearby attractions like Alice Lake, the Squamish railway museum, or Brackendale Art Gallery. This depends on the number of vehicles available to carry everyone and the volunteers' schedule. The grounds and the scenery right in camp are wonderful and we play outdoor bocce and croquet; or just sit or walk and enjoy the beauty of the place.
I am really hoping to be able to return, as a camper, to Camp Squamish in the near future and look forward to meeting old and new friends there and to create some new memories of a Stroke Recovery Easter Camp Squamish weekend.