First of all, thank you to all the fabulous applicants who entered the Camp Reveille competition. There were many deserving applicants, making the contest very close. Joan Lunden, herself, spent hours trying to narrow-down finalists. But we have selected a finalist!
Announcing…. *drumroll*… Deborah Keys of Rowlett, Texas!
Read about Deborah’s experience in the Dallas Morning News.
A Devoted Daughter and Caregiver
Deborah’s mom, Derlene, was diagnosed with dementia and broke her hip shortly after the diagnosis, so Debbie decided it was best that her mom move in with her for rehabilitation. Derlene has lived with her for 5 years and Debbie provides 24/7 constant care:
“I assist her with every single thing she does; clean her up for the day, dress her, get her breakfast, do some physical activity with her, engage her in what conversation she is able to have that day, make sure she takes her medicine, remind her where the restroom is every time she goes, show her where her room is, remind her who I am, prepare lunch, do her laundry, clean her room and her bathroom, answer the same questions again and again and again, prepare dinner, and ready myself for the ‘sun-downer’s’ event that occurs each evening along with getting her ready for bed.”
The judging panel was extremely impressed by Debbie’s positive nature and charm, despite her situation. Debbie comments that while the years have been challenging and frustrating, they have also been “the most rewarding years of my life.”
This Texas native is a retired junior high English teacher of 22 years—who still substitutes for a little extra spending money—when she is not caring for her mother. Her only transportation has almost 200,000 miles on it which she relies on to haul her mom along with cane, walker and/or wheelchair.
“Being a retired junior high teacher gives me time to care for her, which is probably a good thing since I have much more time than money. I am single, and my only income is my teacher retirement annuity. Mom’s small Social Security check and small VA widow’s pension help pay some of the bills, but we do live paycheck-to-paycheck. Even though there is no money for day care or in-home assistance for Mom, God is faithful, and He does provide for our needs. However, placing her in a long term care facility is inevitable, and I am doing my best to prepare both of us for that fast approaching day.”
Debbie has also had some tragic family events occur over the past year. She is definitely due for a getaway and some much-needed rejuvenation.
“Because of my limited funds and time devoted to caring for my mother, I have not been able to get away for any length of time to rest and recharge. Being awarded a few days at Camp Reveille would be a most welcome event in my life, and escaping this Texas heat in August would be a God send! I am keeping a journal about my experiences as a caregiver, and a few days at Camp Reveille would give me an opportunity to work on it, not to mention being able to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep.”
Debbie’s Reaction To Learning She Won
When A Place for Mom called Debbie to deliver the great news that she was the winner of the Camp Reveille contest, she screamed and laughed—and was then speechless. Her fun, bubbly personality was immediately contagious and she commented that she was “simply thrilled” to find out she won.
Here is a Q&A about Debbie’s experience in finding out the great news, and her anticipation of the getaway:
Q: What was it like hearing the news?
A: “I had just dropped off my mom at the hairdresser when my phone rang. I don’t typically answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number; but I did. When I heard the person on the line say ‘A Place for Mom,’ I was just hoping it was about the contest. Then I heard Joan Lunden — THE ONE AND ONLY JOAN LUNDEN — and it was just incredible. She sounded just like herself too – happy, pleasant and very genuine.”
“I must say that my surprise phone call from Joan Lunden was the most exciting event and news I’ve received in quite some time. It was absolutely thrilling, and it made my day. . . My week. . . My year! It is still sinking in. I am genuinely honored to be selected for this excellent opportunity to rest and recharge.”
Q. Now that you know you’re going to Camp Reveille, what are you looking forward to?
A. “When I was young I went to Girl Scout Camp and Church Camp, and I loved it. Looking at the Camp Reveille website brought back those memories. The camp just looks so beautiful with the lake and the pine trees. I’m excited to get out of the Texas heat and do as much — or as little — as I want, and not have to worry about scheduling anything.
I took archery in college, so that sounds fun. I’ll try that along with Yoga, Pilates and the morning walks. And who can resist the chick-flick movie night? There are so many great options!”
Q: How did your mom react when you told her the news?
A: “She doesn’t quite understand, but each time I tell her she’s pleased that something good has happened to me.”
Camp Reveille: Where Spa Meets Summer Camp
Joan Lunden, A Place for Mom spokesperson and former Good Morning America host, created Camp Reveille as a unique getaway for women in Naples, Maine.
Being a caregiver is one of the toughest jobs out there. It’s not only emotionally draining, but can also be physically taxing. Joan wanted to offer caregivers a getaway; even if for just for a few days.
While caregivers are happy to help their elderly loved ones, it’s important for caregivers to also take care of themselves. Beautiful Camp Reveille, located in Naples, Maine offers a unique 4-day and 3-night getaway for women where they can re-energize and get inspired in an exhilarating and serene environment.
Tuition includes lodging, meals and an extensive list of activities, including but not limited to:
- Fitness classes (kickboxing, Pilates, yoga, and more).
- Lake activities including swimming, skiing, boating, wakeboarding, and canoeing.
- Meditation and Lifebreath sessions where you’ll learn relaxation methods.
- A variety of arts and crafts.
- Archery, tennis, and climbing wall.
- Jewelry making; learn, create, and take your beautiful piece home with you.
- Indian Council Fire where you will learn the meaning of Reveille and dance to energetic drum beats.
- Dance classes including Zumba.
- Movie nights; popcorn, PJ’s, and chick flicks with no guilt!
- Breakout sessions on a wide array of topics from health and relationships to finance and fashion.