Why Being a Part of a Community is Important... Even For Adults.
Being a part of a community is sometimes taken for granted. Many of us have a baseline of social groups we have been a part of ranging from playgroups when small, school classes, work associates and perhaps camp friends mixed in between. But what if you haven't had the opportunity to make connections with social groups you relate to? Or what if past relationships have faded away and you are suddenly having to "make friends" as an adult? At Camp Blue Skies we recognize that finding a social group that you want be a part of is not always easy. What if you are having trouble finding groups of people you can relate to? What if you can't find programs where you feel you "fit in"? Or what if you no longer have an outlet to see or connect with past friends now that you are an adult?
Warm fuzzy feelings and being invited to class reunions are not the only reason belonging to a community and having close friends is important. A lack of social interaction can lead to isolation and serious mental health risks, as highlighted in this article . There is also a recent study showing that more Americans now than ever before are suffering from loneliness.
Add in a disability and the solution to finding a community that you connect with only gets more complicated. Social opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities greatly decline once they become adults. When opportunities are available other logistics can get in the way whether it be transportation, financial means to participate, or lack of one-on-one support. It can be difficult for adults with disabilities to meet new friends and grow within a healthy "community" environment over time.
So what can we do about it?
Get involved! Camp Blue Skies (CBS) provides a way for adults to connect with an amazing community. CBS strives to be a place where adults with intellectual disabilities and volunteers can make new friends and become part of a camp community.
It is also a place where old friends can reconnect. For instance, our Founder/Director (Dick Sesler) asked his fraternity brothers if they would support CBS, and they all agreed to be week long volunteers at our NC 2010 inaugural camp. What a great example of fraternity brotherhood lasting for a lifetime. Many of these awesome guys have become regular CBS volunteers and we are so appreciative for their example of what it means to be a family of friends.
We challenge all of you to take advantage of the Camp Blue Skies experience to meet new friends, become a part of a welcoming and enriching community, or bring old friends together to reunite. There are opportunities to volunteer for a full week camp session or just a few days. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering, or attending as a camper.
It is nice to know that camp is one way to combat isolation for campers and volunteers. We look forward to many happy reunions with the Camp Blue Skies family for years to come.