Here, Mary talks about her experience at Recovery Camp.
The concept of therapeutic recreation as an outside-of-the-box approach to mental health care has always resonated with me. As a result, when the opportunity came up to attend the innovative Recovery Camp, it felt a little surreal that I was allowed to go along! Currently completing my 3rd year of a Bachelor of Psychology, I was eager to encounter multi-faceted perspectives on mental health from the team of volunteers, students and clinicians that contribute to the facilitation of Recovery Camp. My experience far exceeded my expectations however.
It was a unique privilege to share a few days walking in the lives of the volunteers, who have a lived experience of mental illness. Recovery Camp gave us the chance to spend five days in the outdoors: overcoming fears and challenges, conversing, making music, laughing, crying, and growing together. Perhaps an even greater gift was the chance to hear other’s stories, even the sad stories, as they always spoke of hope. Witnessing and hearing the life experiences of others has challenged my thinking around mental health. It has assisted me to see the small, simple ways in which others contribute to a journey of recovery. Furthermore, the depth of insight and compassion I witnessed the volunteers display is an image that will long remain with me, as an encouragement and an inspiration in my own life.
I believe Recovery Camp works so well due to the unifying element of a common purpose shared by the many different individuals who attend: everyone wanted to be there and wanted to do their best. The diversity in this ranged from, accommodating others in a conversation to stretching one’s limits on a rock climb. I think for all of us the parallels in overcoming challenging obstacles – both on our own and as a team – were directly relatable to our lives back at home. I hope that I remember to remain open and to take a chance on seeing the world through another’s eyes, as I think that this was one of the greatest gifts of this unique and unforgettable time.
My deepest thanks to the volunteers firstly, as well as the clinical nurses, students, the Global Challenges program and the School of Psychology – all of which enabled my participation in Recovery Camp.