Siloam camping trip brings together community and staff
Earlier this summer, a group of Siloam Mission staff and community members ventured out on their annual summer camping trip to St. Malo. The group, including past Siloam guests who have transitioned to housing as well as current community members still on their path to finding a home, traveled to Lakeshore Bible Camp for two days spent in nature.
Thanks to some ideal weather and lots of positive attitudes, this year’s camping trip was a huge success. Transition Services Supervisor Kristin Kennedy says for many of the campers, this trip is the highlight of their year.
“What’s wonderful about this trip is that it allows people who have graduated to housing to inspire those who are still on the road to getting there”, says Kristin, “Those who have graduated from our programs become natural mentors, and those community members who are still on the path to housing get inspired by seeing the possibilities of what their lives can become. It truly is an amazing thing to watch”.
While there are a number of activities such as canoeing, archery, volleyball, swimming and crafts, there are no set schedules, and participants can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Kristin says this is an important reason why so many participants get excited about the trip.
“These are individuals who often live chaotic and turbulent lives as they fight everyday to figure out where their next meal is coming from. For many, the peace and tranquility they get to experience on this trip is like a dream come true”.
Daytime peer-building activities such as crafting, sharing circles and devotions flow naturally into evening events that include movies and karaoke. “The challenges of everyday life seem to melt away,” says Kristin, “and people who feel like they are at the bottom of society get to feel valued.” She gives the example of one individual who in their everyday life feels inferior because of their cognitive challenges. And yet, because of their strong paddling skills, they could proudly sit in the stern of the canoe – knowing they were contributing to the joy and learning of others.
Organizing the trip is a major group effort, involving the superior cooking skills of case worker Kevin Pelletier and the incredible organizational skills of Administrative Assistant April Singleton.
Kristin says it’s well worth the effort. “Being a part of a program that connects people to the land, and getting to watch them relax and enjoy after seeing how hard they work every day to improve their lives – it’s just another reminder of the pride that I feel working at Siloam Mission.”