The most inviting mountain sights filled the large windows at the Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, Colorado for the “Body, Mind and Spirit Retreat in mid-August.
As people arrived by suppertime, 19 out-of-stators made up part of the 53 polio survivors and their caregivers, adding a joyful mix to the event. Nine survivors had contracted Polio in other countries before immigrating to the US, creating a distinct diversity of cultures and ages. Folks from every era of the disease’s onset shared their experiences. The energy level remained Sky-high over 4 nights and 5 days.
A true camping experience (bottom bunk beds, down the hall bathrooms roommates, and morning and evening chats) made for fond memories.
The Village’s extraordinary staff served up well-planned, bang-up, family and camp-style meals, bringing us all together 3 times a day. The young, full-time, year-round employees anticipated everyone’s needs with care and cheerfully.
Dr. Fred Maynard, of Polio Health International was keynote speaker. He led breakout sessions on the body, pain, fatigue and “Ask a Doctor.” His wife, Kathy managed to find a way to give special attention to each one of us and lead a Crafts group.
I believe the Physical therapy sessions led by our licensed member, Dee Ann Vink, were the most valued by everyone. From her, we learned many necessary tips that therapists in the past have never shown us. Mary Christiansen, PT Professor at Regis University, brought five Ph.D students to provide individual physical therapy help. They demonstrated how our bodies must be placed in a proper position for each individual exercise to work best. Some appreciative campers promised to attend their graduation in May.
Campers fished, rode horseback, the zip line and the historic Georgetown Loop Railroad. Some took bird and nature mini-hikes on paved and board paths. A PVC wheelchair can roll campers down a ramp into the warm pool. It and the Jacuzzi made many campers happy. I saw many smiles and heard shouts of joy there. Mostly, it was the energy which enabled campers to get to know each other, confide and share their good and bad stories and help one another.
Too many specific choices were available to mention. Stress Management, Adaptive Yoga, Sexuality, End of Life Decisions and Writing Our Life Story also engaged their share of Campers. I was pleased to see how many folks could get on the floor yoga mats for their positions. Reflexology sessions lured campers back several times apiece.
NuMotion Mobility lent scooters and power chairs, enabling 7 canes and walker-users to mosey around exploring the large Village acreage.
A cheerful, volunteer survivor shuttled folks around the site in a Camp golf cart.
A friendly, retired, volunteer photographer seemed everywhere at once, recording thousands of images of our interested and smiling faces.
We enjoyed bawdy Irish and cowboy songs rendered by a camp staffer. Some of our jolly Campers boogied with the Spoke N Motion (wheelchair dancers’) ensemble for a fitting finale!
While it has taken some time to get back to normal, we discovered we could enjoy much more than we thought we could, after Polio set us back.
Summer camping in the past was NEVER as good as this!
Generous donations from Polio Health International, the Ventilator Users Organization, Wheat Ridge Rotary Club, NuMotion Mobility and Bob Watenpaugh provided scholarships.
Congratulations to our talented member-planners, Dr. Marny Eulberg, Sue Brandon, Sandy Abbott, Margaret Hinman, Pat Jenni, and Nancy Hanson of Easter Seals!