My favorite day of the summer (or one of them)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Today was one of my favorite days of the summer! Today, I drove down to Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Indiana, to teach Jazzercise at Camp Del Ja Ri. I've been doing this now for about four years, and it's always such a fun time with the kids! 

Let me tell you a little about why Camp Del Ja Ri rocks. The camp is especially for kids with rheumatic diseases... kids who maybe wouldn't get to attend a summer sleepaway camp because of necessary medications or lack of understanding from others at camp about their diseases. The camp has a doctor and nurse onsite in case any medical problems arise, so parents can feel content about having kids attend, and I LOVE that the kids get the chance to go to a fun camp! Camp also allows kids from all over to interact with one another. Kids come from northern Indiana, southern Indiana, Illinois, and even further, and they get the chance to meet other kids who suffer from arthritis and other diseases. 

The camp runs just like many other camps do. The kids spend their days doing arts and crafts, fishing and swimming on the lake, spending time in nature, and learning leadership skills as they grow, share, and bond with one another. It's a camp totally unique from all others, and I'm glad that kids who are diagnosed young have the opportunity to attend (campers must be between the ages of 7-16, but older kids often attend later in high school and serve as counselors). 

For the past few years, it's been a pretty stead group of the same kiddos. I LOVE going year after year and seeing how much they've grown up and changed! One will be a sophomore in high school this year, and gets her driver's license in November. Another will be starting sixth grade. And my little buddy Peyton chatted me up about her summer and her mom's wedding (we both got married in May!)! 

Before I teach, we have a good talk about how important it is to keep our joints moving and our muscles strong. I'm incredibly lucky that my Rheumatoid Arthritis has been under control for seven years now, but I know that not everyone who suffers from RA can say that, especially kiddos who have growing bodies that change often. We talk about good modifications the kids can do if they're feeling a little yucky that day, and then we get down to dancing! 

The first two years, I'm not sure the kids bought in, but this year, they were all over it! Everyone participated and did an AWESOME job! We did a good number of cardio routines and then switched over to some strength training. I'm so proud of them for embracing it and going with the flow! 

I love this day of summer so much because I get to see what true strength looks like. There are so many struggles these kids get put through, but at camp, they just get to be kids. They get to enjoy their time and eat s'mores and make friends with other kids. It doesn't get much better than that! 

I'll try to get some pictures to post soon - I can't wait to see the action shots of everyone Jazzercising! 


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