#StrongerThanJA at Camp KGAT!

I had the wonderful privilege to work with the kids and teens at Camp KGAT last week. Camp KGAT is a family weekend camp for kids with arthritis and their families. It’s a awesome opportunity for not only the kids with arthritis to engage in normal activities together, but also with their families. It allows them to all be on equal footing and also to network with one another. Most of the camp activities are exactly what you would do at any typical summer camp. But there are a few activities that focus on arthritis. The parents attend a session that allows them to learn more about supporting their kids while the kids get their own session.

My first goal was to give kids and teens an opportunity to get to know each other a bit better while having some fun. We played a variety of ice breaker games, including “Stand Up and Yell” with the school-agers and “It Could Be Worse” with the teens. “Stand Up and Yell” is a great game for kids to get a bit active. The leader makes a statement and whoever agrees with the statement has to do what is instructed. For example if I said “Stand up and yell if you like dogs” than anyone who likes dogs would stand up and yell. You don’t have to just say yell. I change it up and say things like “Stand up and spin if you like ice cream” or “Stand up and jump if you love Recess” or even “Stand up and strike your favorite dance pose”. “It Could Be Worse” is great for teens who may like to complain about having to do group activities, because it’s a chance for them to turn their gripes into a silly story. You start out with a simple sentence such as “Today I went to school and had to take a test.” The next person might say “It could be worse, it could have been raining and you got soaked”. And the next person says “It could be worse, the rain could have ruined your brand new outfit that you were going to wear for picture day.” And each person adds to the story, the sillier and crazier the better. If I remember correctly there was a shark on a train going through a tunnel with a grizzly bear in our story.

My second goal was to get them to think about what it meant to be #StrongerThanJA. For the younger kids we read “The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig”. It’s a new twist on the classic tale and we talked about what it takes to be stronger and how strength isn’t always physical. The teens were given the opportunity to sit and chat together. We talked about how we each have difficult things to do. Some of the kids have arthritis of course, but there were quite a few siblings and I wanted them to know that the siblings are important too.

The time I spent was super short and I hope that they got something from the experience. It really stuck home to me the importance of both giving these kids the opportunity to be normal but to also validate the siblings and their own role in their families. I totally recommend camp as a great way for kids with medical diagnoses to go to a camp with kids like them. It is so validating for them to be with people who are going through the same thing. Have you ever worked to went to a medical camp? What was your experience like? Reply in the comments below!

You can see pictures of the event by clicking the link below!

https://www.facebook.com/arthritisfoundationtexas/photos/a.1891101844320064/1892328617530720/?type=3

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