This summer Camp Arcadia was excited to start a new respite program to honor guests with special needs and their families. Through this respite program we are able to create opportunities tailored for them to be renewed in, “spirit, mind, and body.” Karlee Hintsala, a sophomore at Concordia Wisconsin, was hired this summer to specifically serve these families. Karlee came with experience in this area, having served on staff last summer at Camp Matz, a Lutheran camp for the developmentally disabled. “When I applied to Camp knowing that they needed a respite coordinator – I wanted it to be me so badly, so that I could bring my passion to Camp Arcadia! I loved the idea of having a service for families and individuals and I knew that with my experience, I could provide companionship and respite for families,” commented Karlee.
Karlee worked with five different families this summer to determine a plan for each of their loved ones. Her work revolved around spending two to three hours each afternoon with each person, giving their parents and caregivers the time off. She also helped out at meal time and gave them special attention during the morning program.
Jill Schlueter-Kim’s daughter, Wila, had a great week with Karlee. “The first time Willa and Karlee met, they immediately liked each other. Willa wanted to sit next to Karlee and hold her hand. They were fast friends! Karlee told us about her experience working with adults with disabilities at a summer camp and how she jumped at the chance to work with kids with special needs at Arcadia. Even more than most parents, parents of kids with special needs have to be very careful and are very selective about who they trust with their kids. Karlee immediately impressed us with her competency and caring for Willa and we felt secure leaving Willa with her. Not only did Karlee give my husband and I a little break from caring for Willa, but Willa got to feel more independent by spending special time with her new friend. Thank you to everyone who made this happen!” remarked Jill.
Pete Schoedel’s son, Joshua, also benefited from the respite program this summer, “Typically the changes in routine and unstructured nature of vacation are very stressful for my son with autism, and as a result, the rest of the family. Having caring staff who took the time to get to know his interests, along with a specific structured time each day that they worked with him, really helped him feel comfortable at Camp. Camp Arcadia’s Respite Program helped us have one of the most relaxing, melt-down free vacations in a long time! “ noted Pete.
The program also had an effect on Karlee, as well as the parents. Karlee reflected, “It was so hard saying goodbye to the families each week since they had such a huge impact on me! The smiles and hugs I got at the end of each week meant so much to me. I had tears in my eyes each week because I had built such a great relationship with each person and couldn’t wait to see them again!”
Jill talks about what it meant for her and husband Art, “A wonderful week at Camp Arcadia! Made even better by some respite provided by RKD. Amazing! For the first time at Camp, Art and I didn’t have to draw straws to see who got to go on the blowout hike and we both went! Very grateful and refreshed!
Executive Director Chip May commenting on what this new program means: “As I have become a father and spent more time listening and learning from other parents, I really started to realize that by implementing a respite program we could more fully live out Camp’s mission to renew our guests in spirit, mind and body. We hope to continue to develop this program.”
If you are interested in learning more about Camp’s respite program, please contact Camp’s program director, Jason Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.