Intergenerational Campers Make New Friends at Camp Ageless
When staffers at United Church of Christ-related Patriot Ridge Community, a senior living community in Fairborn, Ohio, were challenged to create innovative programming for the residents, one of the activities they created was guaranteed to turn ageism on its ear: Camp Ageless, a one-day, intergenerational event. The third annual camp took place Aug. 4 on the community’s campus.
More than 20 residents were joined by 37 youth in a variety of camp activities run by community leaders. The activities ranged from crafts to playing bingo to listening to stories by a campfire. This year’s favorites included face painting, coconut bowling, and bubble blowing, among others. Campers also shared a meal together.
Stacie Ward, administrator at Patriot Ridge, says that although bingo is usually a big hit, all of the activities engage participants in a positive way.
“It’s fun to see, depending on the activity, a resident assisting one of the children with some knowledge they have; or the children helping the residents with an activity, and being helpful and caring,” Ward says. “Both have so much love to give, and [Camp Ageless] gives them the opportunity to share that love.”
Part of CHHSM-member ministry United Church Homes, Patriot Ridge recently earned the Silver Quality Award from the American Health Care Association.
“In 2015, United Church Homes started a program to support innovation in resident life services,” says the Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “Patriot Ridge’s Camp Ageless program shows the impact of such innovative thought. We are committed to providing intergenerational experiences as part of our commitment to wholeness and peace in our communities.”
The camp also meets ageism head on. Because everyone works and plays together during Camp Ageless, the day helps dispel the myth of what specific age groups like or should be doing. “It helps to show what two groups of individuals, children and older adults, are capable of,” says Ward.
In the end, she says, one of the main takeaways of Camp Ageless is the pure joy created during the day’s activities.
“Some of the bonds created go beyond the one day at camp, and children return to see specific residents that they connected with,” Ward says. “It gives our community — our residents’ home — a feeling of contentment.
“I always say it is like the feeling you have when you have all of your family over for Thanksgiving to celebrate: All the different ages and relationships intermingling [at Camp Ageless] just fills all of us with such joy.”
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