How Camp Reveille Can Help Restore Your Caregiver Soul
Substitute teacher and caregiver — Debbie Keys was our well-deserving contest winner of last year’s Camp Reveille “Rest and Recharge” Caregiver Giveaway. The following is Debbie’s first-hand experience at camp and is inspiration for all caregivers to enter in this year’s contest.
Do you or someone you know deserve a break from caregiving? Do YOU need a caregiver? Perhaps you or someone you know deserves to “Rest and Recharge” at Joan Lunden’s Camp Reveille. My name is Debbie Keys, and that is where I was this time last year. For five years my sweet mom, whose diagnosis was dementia, lived with me, and I not only worked, but I was also her full-time caregiver.
In order to be the best caregiver I could be for my lovely mother, who deserved my best, I took my own advice and scheduled small breaks from time to time from this life-challenge called “caregiving.” I would certainly advise a good friend to take a well-deserved and guilt-free rest, so why not do the same for myself. When I saw the “Rest and Recharge” contest sponsored by A Place For Mom, I jumped at the chance to tell my story and hopefully be awarded three days of self-care or “me time.”
A Chance to Recharge Mind, Body and Soul
In order to give care to another person, it is essential to be emotionally, physically and spiritually replenished and recharged. If you are totally spent in any of these areas, compensating for the lack only depletes the other areas that much faster. You can only give away what is yours to give.
My experience at Camp Reveille was refreshing, renewing and replenishing. Hearing about the frustrations and stresses of other caregivers validated my own feelings of frustration and stress. Knowing we shared common caregiving experiences (from wandering to finding mail in the freezer) was a huge relief, at least to me. Camp Reveille provided a non-judgmental and safe environment to try activities that stretched my mind, body and soul. From the evening campfire on the first night to the farewell dance party on the last night, your days and nights are filled with whatever you need to rest and recharge.
Try Something New to Restore Your Spirit
Your personal prescription for renewal can be found in the variety of workshops at Camp Reveille. Trying Zumba for the first time was exhilarating for me physically. Creating my own jewelry let me awaken the creative part of my brain that I thought had gone dormant.
Restoring my soul came from walking by the lake, strolling through the serene woods and sitting on the deck breathing in the beautiful scenery and catching up on my journal.
Oh, did I mention the relaxing massage and fabulous facial? Heaven on earth! And let me say that the food was better than a five star restaurant. Delectable and delicious! Absolutely worth the price of admission. When I think of my depleted state of being before Camp Reveille and my renewed and replenished condition after, I am so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to have true “me time” and to be cared for. When I returned home, I had a replenished abundance of love, patience and joy to share with my mom as her caregiver and as her daughter.
The vast number of caregivers in our nation alone is growing every day. However, at Camp Reveille putting faces to some of those numbers translates from head knowledge to heart knowledge. There is a difference.
Making the Choice to Move Mom Into Assisted Living
Within the last year, my mom’s condition has required placement in a long-term care facility. Because of my Camp Reveille experience (sponsored by A Place For Mom) and sharing with other caregivers, I found this transition a bit easier than I anticipated. And, since I kept a journal about my days at camp, I can relive those days whenever I need a refresher.
My frequent visits with my mom are much sweeter now because I get to just love on her instead of trying to anticipate and meet every need she has. As more caregivers cross my path, I am able to pass on encouragement and compassion which I received from my camp experience.
I want to encourage you to write your own story. Not only for a chance to attend this life-affirming camp, but for your own personal well-being. God bless you!
About the Author
Texas native, retired junior high school English teacher and active substitute teacher, Debbie Keys turned full-time caregiver to her mother after the onset of dementia, and when her mother had broken her hip. She had assisted her mother with everything from dressing her to helping her with physical activity to ensuring she took her medication. After Debbie’s mother’s dementia progressed, she chose to move her into assisted living where she continues to visit with her regularly and “love on her.”
Are you a caregiver in need of a rejuvenating vacation? Do you know of a caregiver to nominate for some well-deserved time off? Visit our 2nd Annual Camp Reveille “Rest and Recharge” Caregiver Getaway Contest page on how to enter this year’s contest.
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