The Monday Memo
November 30, 2015 PITT DPT STUDENTS
During summer break, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a camp counselor at Camp Star. Camp Star is a weeklong retreat for youth amputees ages 8-17 that come from all across the United States and Canada. The retreat takes place at Camp Kon-O-Kwee/Spencer, 45 minutes outside of downtown Pittsburgh. The weekend consists of a quintessential camp experience with activities including fishing, rock climbing, archery, zip lining, canoeing, and obstacle courses. Camp Star also offers specialized activities for young amputees such as physical therapy education, wheelchair basketball, and visits from prosthetists.
Of all the time I spent at camp, one activity struck me more than most. I arrived at the camp while the campers were completing the adventure course. The course involved climbing, walking across logs, zip-lining, and rope swings that were completed by every staff member and camper alike. Immediately, I was struck by how positive the campers were of each other, and particularly how supportive they were of one new camper in particular.
One of the most challenging activities for the new camper was the rope swing over a ditch. The first-time camper was hesitant to complete the rope swing and attributed her fears to her missing forearm. After watching other campers complete the obstacle, the camper finally had the courage to try the swing. The camper accidently fell when landing (no injuries!), but after her fall I was amazed how the other campers helped her up and encouraged her to keep going.
On the next course, one of the campers helped the new camper swing across the monkey bars. The happiness on the new camper’s face was beyond words. Throughout the week, I would watch that same camper make a bulls-eye in archery, rock climb and achieve other milestones that she would have thought were impossible.
Jim Abbott once said, “It’s not the disability that defines you; it’s how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with. We have an obligation to the abilities we do have, not the disability”. Camp Star is not only a venue for the children to be with others with similar experiences, Camp Star is a way for them to gain confidence and live up to their potential, both physically and emotionally.
As physical therapists, we have to help our patients believe that they are capable before we can ever help them achieve their goals. I challenge my classmates to find what’s important to every patient and use it to help motivate them through their recovery. You’ll not only leave the patient with a positive and memorable experience, but also continue to better our profession.
– Susan Staats, DPT Class of 2017
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