By: Tonya Butler
This year’s camp served 76 veterans with 22 volunteers from the Marine Corp League, American Legion and Auxiliary, and the University of South Alabama Therapeutic Recreation Majors, as well as high school students fulfilling volunteer hours.
Veterans’ families bonded over pies in the face, fear on the high ropes course, laughter as they flew down the slip n slides, competition in the corn hole tournament, and tears of healing while we discussed the challenges of transition from service to our country to service to our families and communities.
Veterans and their families had the opportunity to learn to play again and the positive effects it has on reconnecting with their loved ones in a non clinical environment. The adults learned how to open up to each other while playing ridiculously embarrassing games that made them laugh out loud at each other while embracing their injuries, disabilities, and their renewed love for life.
We shared songs and stories around the campfire, along with marshmallows and glow in the dark games. We broke down barriers to healing by breaking water balloons over each other’s heads!
Camp ended with teaching skills that they could carry on outside, such as kayaking and balancing on a stand up paddleboard. We gave them resources to connect with each other and with community organizations so they may find the lost connections they were seeking out.