Saturday, June 25, 2011

Accessible Overnight Campout

I went on an overnight camp this week with the Independent Living Resource Center in Winnipeg.
The canoe and swimming dock and the group use facility in the background.

 I read about this overnight event  last year, but I really wasn't sure it was suitable for me. Beginner camping skills? Heck, I have as of this week completed 20 years as a Girl Guide leader and have the pins to prove it. I have taken endless training about camping and spent more nights camping with groups of kids that I like to think about.  Why on earth would I need a beginners Guide to camping? At the same time I have been really missing camping over the past few years and I was looking for a a new way to get out there again.

I saw that they were having a day with an orientation to their summer programs so I went to it mainly because I wanted to learn about their picnic and outdoor community walk days. They had a pretty full house and when they discussed  basic camping skills I felt like I had a lot to add on certain topics and thought that I might even be a bit of help at the camp. On the other hand I also realized that there is a lot I don't know about making camping accessible for myself or others. I think there might be interest in the future for SAM members (Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba) to go camping and we regularly have special needs girls in Guiding that we take to camp.

After my recent camping adventure with Guiding I realized that, while I am doing very well with my recovery, I am still not able to carry my own weight at camp and I most certainly could not camp without a lot of support. What else could I learn about camping with a disability? I handed over the incredibly low fee of $25 and filled out the paperwork.

We had about 12 people camping who were "consumers", a few caregivers and a whole lot of staff. It turned out that this is a bit of a staff summer celebration too with some of the staff's family members camping as well.

Transportation was provided to the camp site that is just outside the city limits in a great educational nature reserve called Fort Whyte Alive

When I got there I was shown where the "girls cabin" was. It is very nice with 5 bunk-beds and was heated and had electricity. There was a wheelchair ramp to get in and it was not that hard for the wheel chair users to maneuver around in there. The attached bathroom with a composting toilet was another matter in terms of accessibility, but the lodge space  just a few yards away has an accessible toilet.

The fire-pit and central hub for the camp
Once I got my stuff dumped on my bunk I headed outside to sit around the fire pit and listen to a truly excellent guitar player. He played folk style songs for a hour without stopping. ( or peeking at music!)
One of the staffs little 10 year old boys told me that he is working on learning guitar and I told him me too! We agreed that by next year we will be able to play a song or two at the campfire! lol

The meals were good with opportunities to cook wieners over the fire or to roast marshmallows to make smore's.

I went sailing and absolutely loved it.. (balance issues aside--  it was still fun and I can't wait to go again). I rode around on an electric golf cart to get from place to place, toured the nature center and the little gift shop and I even hiked a little bit. I was hoping to canoeing in the evening but it began to rain and was just kind of cold and yuckky so I settled for staying on the deck and watching a few other brave people canoe.

Cabins in background and tent camping was also an option.
I talked to a lot of new people and even traded a few email addys with people that I hope to keep in touch with.
I found it very different to camp with this group compared to Girl Guides or Scouting. In Guiding the kids grow up getting different skills and there is an expectation for HOW things should be done. It is great to have our "Scouting Skills" but it is nice to see how the other side does it for a change. It was wonderful to be the participant for a change and not the person who has to be up worrying about broken tents or getting breakfast started. I am definitely going to try and go again next year.

 Below is information from the Independent Living Resources Website:
This Camping Trip is for People with Disabilities:
• Who want to learn or improve their camping skills
• Who want to have a fun time and participate in activities
such as sailing, hiking, setting up a tent, cooking, camp
safety and fishing
• Who want to sleep lakefront in a tent or accessible cabin
• Who are able to follow the Independent Living Philosophy
and can direct their own care 
(two days, one night)
Location: Fort Whyte Alive
Cost: $25


Sara G said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! Great pictures too. I haven't been camping in a long time but I like it and fishing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. sounds as though you had some great times and were able just to 'relax' and benefit .. and with some really helpful facilities in lovely surroundings ..

Glad you enjoyed yourself .. and good luck with the guitar lessons!! Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Linda .. for some reason I had you down as a Sue .. and as soon as I hit publish .. I realised what I'd done - couldn't retrieve .. apologies!! Hilary

Rebecca Dutton said...

Wahoo!! What an inspiration to hear about a stroke survivor breaking new barriers. I also loved you photos - beautiful composition and super color.

Grace Carpenter said...

Even though I not sure I'm up for camping--yet--a change of scenery can be so helpful. Good for you!

Glynis Jolly said...

Linda, I wish the US had something like this. I don't like camping without a roof over my head but that's taken care of with your program. I could handle the toilet in the cabin. I think I need to talk to my husband about this.

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