Morning Meanderings… A Little Camp Recap

Good morning!  I am home… home at last 🙂 I am a little tired, a little whelmed, and I have a lot to do.  😀

This morning for the Saturday Snapshot, I thought I would share a little bit with you about the camp I was just at and what I did all week.  The camp was Camp Benedict.  It is the camp I ride the CBC ride I rode a few weeks ago for, and it is the camp organized by Connie, whose story I am writing. 

My reason for going to camp was to see Connie in action.  She has run this camp for 17 years for people and families who are touched by HIV/AIDS.   My attending, I felt was really going to help me see the world through Connie’s eyes…

and it really did.

When the board accepted me going last winter I was excited and then as it got closer… a little nervous.  I had an idea of what camp would be like and the people who attended.  Let me say this out loud – I was wrong. 

Camp was….


I arrived Monday afternoon and was settled into my room for the week. 

Me - ready to camp 🙂
Where I stayed
A view from camp

Everyone arrived by Monday late afternoon.  A bus brought people from all over Minnesota.  Connie provides the camp for free to the “campers” (as we are called all week long 😛 ).  She does not want the week to be a financial burden on anyone.

Monday evening we had about 200 pictures placed on the floor of the main lodge.  We were each asked to pick up two pictures that spoke to us.  I chose:

Some of the pictures on the floor
The two pictures I chose

Then we each had to say our name, what the two pictures made us feel – and how we were feeling right now at the beginning of camp.  It was interesting that most of the people there were nervous, or unsure of what to expect.  The picture responses were amazing what people seen in them… responses ranged from feeling on inadequacy, to missing a parent or loved one, to feelings of despair, loneliness, imprisoned, to hopefulness, dreams…

by the end of the night… I was a mess between sweet bouts of laughter, to times of tears.  (I joked with one of the nurses that I thought I was bipolar…. laughing, than crying, than laughing again…. 😛 )

On Tuesday – a doctor Bill (I have his card somewhere) had a session on the pills that everyone is taking.  It was very interesting to hear about the different combinations, what they each do and changes to the combinations to work better for some people.  I think everyone got a lot out of this session including me. 

Afternoons are free time – there were opportunities to work on your Affirmation boxes (which I loved!),  an hour-long pontoon ride to a Dairy Queen, and horse back riding. 

The first afternoon I worked on my Affirmation box.  We were each asked to make these and then throughout the week we each put an affirmation in the others boxes of something we noticed in them…. (Ie.  we appreciated their honesty, they are strong, incredible speaker…)

Affirmation Boxes
My random work station

On Wednesday morning – we had a fun morning session of Yoga and stretching on the ball.  Russ led this group and did an amazing job!

prepping for the morning class
Russ - teaching the stretches

I love working out with the exercise ball and this was a lot of fun for everyone to try.  The group was taught that there are certain moves in Yoga that can actually increase your T cell count.

Dining hall and session building
Connie with her friend Anita on the pontoon to the Dairy Queen!

In the evenings we hung out and talked or there were group sessions.  On Wednesday evening I sat in on the women’s session which was amazing.  The women shared hurts and strengths – and some who felt isolated, now have found positive ways to move forward thanks to the friendships they built during the session.  I left this session completely drained.

The food?  Did I not mention the food yet (I should have took pictures!).  The food was so good!  My Fitness Pal diet was put on hold for the week…. but I am back on it now.  😀

Thursday another doctor spoke in the morning and was there mainly to answer questions about treatments, medications, etc…. I did not see all of her session as I went with Connie to watch her work with the teens who were there with their families where she did a skit of a person just diagnosed with AIDS and how heavy that can feel (she piled large books on her “patient”) as they learn how their life has just changed forever.  She ends this with asking the other teens what they can do to help take the “heaviness” off their friend…. IE.  being a good listener, reminding them they are loved, helping them…)

Thursday afternoon…. I went horse back riding.  😛

The horses
Connie on her horse
Me - on mine.... (his name is Apache)

Thursday night we had a ceremony were we all lit a candle and said what we got out of camp.  Oh wow…. more tears…. after that a DJ came in and the kids got to do Karaoke. 

Friday morning we ate, packed up – and the bus came at 11:30 am.  to take everyone home.   The camp staff (which were AMAZING all week long) made a pyramid for when the bus drove out of the camp.  It was all pretty emotional… and I know I will never be the same from the experience. 

Connie and I
The Camp Staff saying good bye!

I think most of you know why I am working with Connie and the camp, but in the event that you do not – here is my recent post on that. 

46 thoughts on “Morning Meanderings… A Little Camp Recap

  1. Wow, what an amazing experience! It reminds me of some of the seminars we used to attend in my early social work years.

    I love that big cabin. It looks cozy and wonderful.

    Your jeep is pretty cool, too, and exactly what I pictured you driving. (Maybe you’ve shown photos before! LOL).

    Thanks for sharing….

    1. The camp is gorgeous Laurel – I love that it is provided for free to those who attend…. I loved seeing the faces of the people as they got off the bus as I know this certainly what I would have pictured camp to be like. 😀

      I did post the jeep once before when I was at the Library sale… you said a similar comment there, it was what you pictured I would drive…LOL…

      It suits me – it is low maintenance, fun, and gets me to where I want to go 😛

  2. Wow! What an amazing experience and camp. Connie does an amazing job and it sounds like she helps so many people. What a wonderful person, as are all the people involved, I’m sure. SO so happy you were able to experience this, it sounds like you got a lot out of it. 🙂

  3. My friend is HIV Positive and it would be great if there was a place like that around where we live! I think it’s absolutely amazing what Connie does! And many blessings to you for everything you do to help others.
    Here’s My Photo

  4. What a fantastic camp, Sheila. Thanks for sharing your experience. I can see where it would be a very emotional time for all involved.

  5. The morning show on HLN with Robin Meade has a series of profiles of people like Connie. You should nominate her for the wonderful things she’s doing for people with AIDS. Just click on HLN and look for the information on nominating her.

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