Alison Wines, Communications Consultant

This summer, our Community Connections team once again ran their incredibly successful client camping trip at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. Shauna Eisen tells us all about it, and how you can get involved.

Shauna, how long has the camping trip been running?

We’ve been doing it for many years. It started out with a few clients, heading out for one or two days. Now, we go for three nights and four days, with up to 40 clients. PLUS an additional 20 to 30 clients come along just for a day to see what it’s like – often they’ll come up the following year for the full trip.

Who organizes the trip?

It’s the Community Connections program who takes the lead, but there’s a whole camping team involved which includes staff from many different programs. We start planning in January, and clients can come from any team across CMHA.

What are the benefits to clients of going camping?

This is something our clients look forward to and talk about for the whole year! It’s an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and can be a catalyst for our clients’ recovery journey. It challenges people who may be stuck in a routine, and of course the therapeutic benefits of nature are very well documented.

And what do staff think about it?

This trip doesn’t only benefit our clients, it’s great for our staff too. It’s a really good opportunity for us to connect with clients and other staff in a new way, because you’re in a different environment and you have that extra time. When you sit around a campfire and talk, you learn things that you may not otherwise.

What do you do on the trip?

There’s a whole itinerary – there are lots of opportunities available in the mornings and the afternoons. It’s relaxed, but we aim to provide structure while still allowing a lot of personal freedom. We do everything from art activities like sun printing, beading and African drumming, to yoga and meditation. And of course, there’s lots of time for the beach and nature.

How do our clients and staff find out about the trip?

We have posters in drop in spaces, and we send an email out to program and case managers. We ask case managers to sign off to confirm that their client is a good candidate for the experience.

Any final words?

Camping is a unique experience for our clients and staff. It unites our organization and allows us to see each other in a different light, to test boundaries and to be with each other and nature. It’s a really nice reset, it allows everyone to bring that feeling of engagement back to ‘real’ life when we return.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped make the trip such a success, and I’m already looking forward to next year!

 

Our CMHA staff campers
a group of people in a field
Group photo: Sibbald Point Camping Trip