Trinity offers stroke survivors camping experience

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Trinity Rehabilitation Services is giving stroke survivors, their caregivers and family members a three-day camping experience Aug. 27-29 at Camp Menno Haven, Tiskilwa.  Activities are designed specifically for campers, offering opportunities for education, relaxation, socialization and support.

"When someone suffers a stroke, it impacts the whole family," said Kristin Koenig, speech therapist with Trinity Rehabilitation Services and co-organizer of Trinity's camp.  "Often survivors and caregivers become isolated from their friends and family because they can no longer keep pace with others. By coming together in this type of setting, it helps them realize they are not alone in their recovery."

Surrounded by Trinity volunteers who specialize in stroke treatment and after-care, the retreat includes opportunities for education, socialization, relaxation, emotional support interspersed with typical camp activities such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, arts and crafts and campfire fun.

"Education is one of the primary ingredients contributing to the overwhelming success of camp. Often the difference in the levels of recovery from stroke is the ability to keep up with constant changes in new technologies, services and supportive equipment," Koenig said. Educational sessions include speech and language resources, handicapped recreational equipment, diabetes, physical therapy, depression, nutrition, new stroke treatments and more.

Trinity Rehabilitation Services' stroke camp is coordinated through Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp, a non-profit organization based in Peoria. Funding is provided by the Trinity Health Foundation.

Earl and Dorothy Gift of Coal Valley, have attended similar camps after Earl survived a stroke in May 2007. They liked it so much the first time, they attended a camp again in 2009.

"It felt good being there because we were surrounded by other people taking care of us and we didn't have to worry," Earl said. "I liked the way it was arranged; I would go to sessions with other stroke survivors, while caretakers had their own sessions."

According to Dorothy, the decision to go back a second year was all Earl's.

"Earl could see how well he was doing compared to others.  It really gives you a sense of camaraderie," Dorothy said. "It's also nice because the caregivers got to talk, and it gives you a respite because there are so many people around to help."

Koenig herself volunteered at a similar stroke camp while getting her degree, and called it a life-altering experience.

"Volunteering at stroke camp helped me see things through the eyes of a survivor; I could see firsthand all of the changes they undergo and the challenges they work through after this type of experience," Koenig said. "It really made me a better clinician and gave me a renewed passion because I can now understand things from the viewpoint of both the patient and the caregiver."

Cost to attend is $100 per person. Scholarships are available, but space is limited. Priority is given to Trinity patients, but opportunities are available to all.  For more information, contact Trinity Rehabilitation Services at (309) 779-2009.