Recovery camp was a unique experience. Being involved as a clinical facilitator proved to be a double-edged sword phenomenon. Not only was I imparting my mental health knowledge and clinical skills, I was also re-learning mental health from the people with a lived experience and gaining an invaluable re-evaluation on my practice. I was attracted to Recovery Camp because of its philosophy of therapeutic engagement using recreational activities. It claimed to embody the principles of recovery oriented practice that I as a clinician value and so it did. The setting of the camp itself is enough to attract a clinician who is based in an acute setting.
Facilitating students in an environment where consumers and the nursing students are living together was surprisingly easy and enabled those crucial moments of engagement. From sitting side by side on the bus without being aware of the identities of other consumers or students appeared to eliminate judgement and reduce stigma from the onset. Both students and consumers emerged out of this experience with a humanistic understanding of mental health. Witnessing the students and consumers encouraging and participating in team building activities demonstrated what Recovery Camp is all about.
As a registered nurse, it made me reflect on my own practice. Being based in an acute inpatient setting differs immensely from the Recovery Camp setting. This experience reminded me that the use of an appropriate touch, whether it be holding a consumer’s hand through a challenging activity or guiding a student through a maze, is an invaluable humanistic approach that needs to be reconsidered in our daily practice. I strongly encourage consumers, students and other nurses to be involved in the Recovery Camp experience.