Senior’s Summer Camps

Last week, the media in Atlantic Canada was touting Senior’s Summer Camps as an innovative and entrepreneurial idea. According to the article, Halifax, Nova Scotia will be the sight of “The Heart and Soul Summer Arts Camp aimed at seniors experiencing physical, cognitive and financial challenges”. The camp will focus mostly on the arts along with physical activity.

Previously in this column I have talked about programs for seniors that communicate a child-like image for their participants, despite their intended benefits. For example, this program placed a Kindergarten classroom in the common room of a nursing home.

While the senior’s summer camps do not plan to serve seniors alongside children, I would argue that the “second childhood” role is attached to participants of the program though the language (i.e. “summer arts camp”) used to describe it.  In most cases in our culture “campers” are children who embark on an overnight trip in a wilderness-type setting, engaging in various sport and outdoor activities. Increasingly, camp has also come to refer to a summer day-care program where children are sent in lieu of school. While there are countless day programs for seniors across North America (of which there are many SRV related issues), the use of the summer camp language and imagery in this program is particularly troubling.

Steve Tiffany

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm by stevetiff · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , , ,

10 Responses

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  1. Written by Laura O'Malley
    on April 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm
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    I couldn’t agree more that this is very troubling. Even if it is a good idea at heart, the imagery is very troubling. The article goes on the say that one of the founders of the camp is already involved in a project that brings seniors a “magic class that includes some circus arts,” so I can only imagine the child-like activities one might be expected to participate in at this camp. When I picture a summer camp, I picture kids doing scavenger hunts, finger painting, and playing “Marco Polo” in a pool. This seems like glorified daycare with activities that will either be an insult to the intelligence of those who participate, or aimed to be some sort of therapy, such as “art therapy,” implying illness, and implying that said illness can be improved or cured by art. If anyone, senior or otherwise, chooses to do art, it should be for the sake of doing so, or for enjoyment, not for “therapy.”

  2. Written by Chicory
    on April 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm
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    I definitely agree with this. It reminds me of conversations I have had in Dr. Nueville’s SPED class regarding how we put senior citizens into the role of a “second childhood” and treat them as though they have reversed in age back to being like a child. The idea of summer camp holds a stigma of children and isn’t something most adults would desire to have labeled as something they are doing for the summer. However apparently it is okay to have seniors participate in this activity. I also find it interesting that it focuses on arts and physical activity. Many nursing homes and programs that deal with seniors tend to involve arts. Quite similarly there is a stress of arts and creativity among children that is lost as you get into adulthood. I feel as though this is a new way to try to get seniors to have activity and something to do, but as Laura O’Malley said it makes it seem like a daycare. There has to be a way to give seniors the services this camp would provide without giving it a bad sounding stigma.

  3. Written by Tiffany Rohrer
    on April 17, 2012 at 11:48 pm
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    I came across this blog and once I started reading, I found myself thinking a lot about what we are talking about in my current special education class. The title of this article “Senior Summer Camp’s” dealt with a topic we talked about in class regarding the special olimpics. The argument was that although the special olimpics is an great idea there are also parts of this organization that may imply an child like connotation. The solution we decided on was to construct the olimpics experince by offering professionals, challenging tasks, and more self accomplishment. All of the previous things could then take the place of having each particpant being paired up with a “buddy,” having clowns and other childlike objects walking around the event. The same idea could be expressed in the current blog.

    It does not mean that the summer camped offered in the summer’s is not a great idea. However, camp has a negative connotation when associating with seniors as if they are going away for the summer, or as if we are representing the seniors as children that would go away for the summer. I couldn’t agree more with this argument and fill it is something that could be easily changed.

  4. Written by Whitney Sheaffer
    on April 23, 2012 at 9:09 am
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    This idea of “senior summer camp” cannot help but put senior citizens in a role of being a child again. To be labeled a “camper” is demeaning on many levels to these individuals because it forces them to engage in childlike activities, be surrounded by other individuals that are also labeled as “campers”, and be reminded they have no other place to go. Personally, I find it troubling that the professionals that have suggested such program do not find this to be rather demeaning to seniors that are already facing “physical, cognitive, and financial challenges”. I feel such a program only lowers these individuals and forces them to carrying another negative label society has placed upon them. Not only are they stigmatized as being poor, mentally and physically impaired, but now they are also seen as children shipped off to senior summer camp.

  5. Written by Lauren Yerkes
    on April 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm
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    Did anyone go to the actual blog? The web address is at the bottom of the article…

    Here’s one of the itineraries:

    The schedule for Session 3 (April 30th) will be:

    9:00-10:15 (and 1:00-2:15) Painting + the elements of visual art
    10:15-10:30 (and 2:15-2:30) Snack
    10:30-11:30 (and 2:30-3:30) Dance + the elements of kinetic art, connecting movement and music
    11:30-12:00 (and 3:30-4:00) Approaching obstacles with a creative mindset (with special guest Jen Powley)

    They have “snack” scheduled in?? Really??

    The pictures are pretty ridiculous too.

  6. Written by Ruth C.
    on April 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm
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    I agree that this idea of Senior Summer Camps is very troubling. We have talked many times in my special education class this semester about senior citizens entering a second childhood, and I think that this summer camp idea just reinforces that. I have not been to a summer camp since I was in elementary or early middle school. The camps that I went to were mostly sports camps, but when I think of summer camps I still think of camps in the woods with log cabins, and different activities for children; one of them being arts and crafts. To think that senior citizens want to spend their summer days doing arts and crafts seems a little bit stilly to me. It also seems disrespectful. The camp is aimed at helping people with physical, cognitive and financial problems. Just because the individuals may have those problems does not mean that the fix to them will be doing arts and crafts. This idea of senior summer camps just adds another negative image to senior citizens

  7. Written by Brittney Martin
    on May 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm
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    I found this article particularly interesting and relevant to the special education course to which I am currently enrolled in. Social Role Valorization is one of the main components of the course where often the vast variety of different types of devaluization and wounding are discussed. While many times disabled citizens and students take the main focus of our class devaluization conversations, the elderly are not forgotten. Many conversations often lead to the topic of the senior citizens where devaluization is so prominent. Quite often, senior citizens are treated as though they are children, who are completely un-knowledgeable, and incapable of making even the smallest decisions for themselves. By doing community service within a nursing home I was able to witness this type of devaluization first hand, as I witnessed “Activity Days” consisting of making jewelry using fishing line, pipe cleaners, and children’s beads, as though the residents were elementary school children. Additionally the residents were not treated as unique individuals, but instead as a mass or a herd who functioned on a set schedule. Eating was on a schedule, and smoking was only allowed during certain hours of the day, and services such as the beauty salon or dentist were within the home, making it so residents never had to leave and could be under close surveillance at all times, things that seem quite questionable for being someone’s supposed “home.” The idea of having a senior citizen camp follows the same idea. Camps are closely thought of and identified as programs made for children, not adults. Camps are places that children go to have days away from their parents, to play with other peers, to be supervised by other adults and to learn new concepts. The idea of a senior citizen camp overall is a demeaning and belittling concept.

  8. Written by Leslie A
    on June 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm
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    While the idea of a “Seniors Summer Camp” sounds like a great way to get senior citizens active and social, it is ashame that we have to call it just that. There are many place around where I live and in many places where I have relatives, and I hear the same language being used. “Grandma is going to daycare today” is one that I hear quite often. It makes me feel “weird” inside, so I am sure that it makes grandma feel even worse. With these good intentions, we need to think about how people will perceive these places … especially the seniors. A name change would be a major self-esteem booster for the members and it would eliminate any of these child0like images that are out there in society today.

  9. Written by Kristy Gettle
    on June 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm
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    It is a shame that they need to call it “Seniors Summer Camp.” I think the idea of activities that are geared for seniors is a nice idea to keep seniors active. However calling it a “camp” and setting up a schedule using the word “snack” definitely gives it a “childlike” feel. Does it have to target seniors with physical, cognitive and financial challenges? Couldn’t it be for all seniors? It would be great to have a place that offers activities for seniors involving them in physical activity and activity in the arts but does it need to be called a camp? I wish I could think of a clever name for the camp that isn’t childlike and could be advertised more for social activities however my creative juices aren’t flowing.

  10. Written by Brittany V.
    on November 29, 2012 at 11:20 am
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    I really like and appreciate the idea that there are people out there who are willing to use their money and spend it on others. It is heartwarming that she wanted to take her money and make a camp out of it for people generations before. I think it is an awesome idea to gear something towards the elderly. I also really liked the fact that she paid for everything and she didn’t charge for regristion. It made it eual for those who wanted to attend, and not have to worry about paying.

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