Therapeutic Youth Home youth visit Holiday Home Camp
UCAN's Therapeutic Youth Home visited Holiday Home camp again this year, giving UCAN youth the opportunity to experience the great outdoors. Thirty four kids between the ages of seven and eighteen spent three nights and four days in Holiday Home Camp in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, which closed down exclusively for UCAN.
Divided into four groups, the youth engaged in team building exercises and enjoyed a bonfire every night. Low Ropes courses provided opportunities for youth to build trust with their peers, and youth were able to participate in outdoor activities such as fishing, boating and swimming in Lake Geneva for the first time!
Pam Wilson, UCAN's Residential Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator, explained that for some, it was a life changing experience. "We have a 17 year old youth who was very shy and withdrawn before she went to camp. She would usually have her headphones on and was not very communicative. During camp I noticed that she opened up and became more enthusiastic. I see a change in her even now that we have returned." Pam believes that sometimes something as simple as changing one's environment can be beneficial. "Putting kids who have often suffered some sort of neglect into a completely different environment compels them to think differently, and for some it can be a life changing experience."
Seventeen UCAN staff members stayed at camp the entire time, but many would visit the camp during the day because they enjoyed interacting with youth and seeing their progress. Kimberly Sauer, a UCAN therapist, was one of the staff members who shared her experience of being at the camp for the first time. "It was a phenomenal time! Some of the best moments were when we saw youth working together in a positive manner, seeing them succeed at High Ropes even when they were frightened, and of course watching staff breaking out into a choreographed and rehearsed flash mob of "We are the World" for youth. Speaking about how the experience may have changed youth, Kim explained that, "Camp allows youth to experience fun, freedom, and a sense of camaraderie in a positive and healthy manner. Camp naturally takes away barriers among peers and allows them to leave the complexity of life back in Chicago."