Reflection Grading Template
INTD 299 Reflection Rubric
Camp Healing Tree
Last weekend, I got to spend time at Camp Healing Tree with a group of nine-year-old girls that had lost a loved one. Out of the eight girls in our group, seven of them lost a parent or sibling. While I had some expectations prior to the beginning of this camp, I never expected to have so many children without one parent or another. This weekend was humbling and eye-opening to say the least.
I must admit that I almost backed out of going to this camp. The night before I left for Camp Healing Tree, I ended up breaking my toe and spent several hours at the hospital. I thought I would be completely worthless since this occurred. I wondered if I would still be able to make a difference knowing that I would have to sit out on many of the physical activities that would occur. My mind completely changed when I thought about the children in my group. They’ve dealt with much more than a broken toe! I chose to put their needs above my own. If they could make it through their struggles, I could definitely make it through the weekend with a limp.
When thinking about the health of this group of young girls, mental health stood out to me the most. There were several times throughout the weekend when the girls broke down in tears and just wanted to hug someone. To this group of girls, health just meant being happy again and continuing to move on with life. I had to put myself in their shoes and understand that “being healthy” to these girls didn’t necessarily mean being active and eating right. They just wanted to work through their emotions and fully accept their personal losses. Luckily, all of them were open about their experiences. They freely talked about their emotions. I found this to be one healthy way of coping with their feelings. They also talked about happy memories they had with their loved ones, which was a second way of coping with the loss in a healthy manner. It made me glad to see these coping mechanisms occurring at such a young age. Unfortunately, it was mentioned that a few of them had trouble making friends. This made me concerned about the social aspect of their health. Having friends is vital for personal growth and support. Without a support system, emotional and psychological healing may not occur. By acting as a “buddy” to these girls, I was able to be a friend and lend a listening ear. Allowing them to share their emotions helped to improve their emotional health. There were several volunteers at this camp, which showed me how important children are to the community. These volunteers have a heart for kids, want to give them a strong support system, and hope to help them heal so that the chances of negative behaviors occurring from unaddressed feelings of grief decrease. Furthermore, the camp sponsors gave donations to the camp so the children could get the best experience possible. It was great to see the community coming together for a positive cause.
It seems I made assumptions about the girls based on the age at which their loss happened. I assumed the campers that lost loved ones at a very young age would not be impacted as much as those that lost someone only a few years ago, because they wouldn’t have as many memories of the person they lost. When talking with one camper, she said she was two when her dad died. Her brother and sister told her she shouldn’t be upset, because she probably didn’t remember much about him anyway. They also told her she’ll probably end up forgetting about him in the future. She was so scared that her memories of him would disappear over time, and she would not remember him at all. This conversation opened my eyes and made me realize that the age at which the loss occurred does not matter. What I learned is that the loss of a parent is never easy no matter the age.
Individual differences were very apparent during camp weekend. The campers handled their losses in different ways. One camper continued to participate in sports at school, because she knew it made her dad proud. Another camper never misses a Colts football game, because she watched the games with her father before he passed. It brings back good memories for her. However, one camper stopped riding horses after her mother died. This was one activity she would do with her mom. When she told me this, it broke my heart. She said riding horses reminded her too much of her mother and made her feel sad. While most of the girls were open and showed emotion, there was one camper that stood out among the group. She distanced herself during discussions and didn’t talk much about the loss of her grandfather. She was hard to understand. This camper appeared to have a “hard exterior” and hid her emotions by hurting other people’s feelings. She just seemed to shut people out instead of let them in and show her emotions. This demonstrated how people deal differently with loss. At first, it was difficult to not take her actions personally. I had to step back and realize it was not me she was mad at. It was important not to reprimand her for her actions. I tried to put myself in her position and wondered if I would have been angry if I lost a loved one at her age. I had to let her handle it her own way and not force her to talk if she was not ready.
This experience allowed me to see my strengths and weaknesses. My main strength is being an active listener. I got quite a bit of practice listening to the girls over the weekend. This will definitely be important in my future as a physical therapist. Also, I was able to be caring and compassionate. This allowed the girls to open up about their feelings and trust me. Being caring and compassionate toward my future patients is critical to forming a bond. Furthermore, I put the children’s needs above my own. Although I was in some pain and had to do many activities sitting down because of my broken toe, the children were more important to me. This demonstrated altruism. While I noticed some personal strengths, I also saw some weaknesses. I tended to take the actions of one camper personally. Her harsh words and actions made me think I wasn’t doing something correctly. I began to wonder about what else I could do to make her happy. However, after talking with some of the other volunteers, we decided to just let her be and not give her actions attention. We thought it would be better to let her deal with her emotions the way she needed. In the future, I may work with patients that act in ways that come off harsh. It is important that I consider a broad perspective and realize I probably am not the issue. Each patient is going through something different, and I cannot blame myself for someone else’s actions.
After spending the weekend at Camp Healing Tree, I feel a new sense of responsibility for children dealing with grief and loss. I have always loved children and hope to work with them in my future career as a physical therapist. A few years ago, I had a job at an elementary school. I worked with some difficult children and thought they just had no respect for authority. After Camp Healing Tree, I now question why those kids acted the way they did at school. It makes me wonder if some of them have been through a traumatic experience or lost a loved one. I should not have assumed those kids just had bad behavior. Furthermore, it is not a secret that adolescents can get into trouble in the teen years. It seems there is a negative story about a young adult on the news or in the paper at least once a week. Some get involved in groups and behaviors that lead them down the wrong path. In fact, I saw a story on the news about two adolescent girls starting a violent fight at school a few days ago. They were punching each other and pulling hair. One had to go to the hospital for her injuries. In my opinion, it makes the community look unsafe. Instead of thinking that these adolescents are simply bad people, I now wonder what has happened in their lives that caused them to participate in these behaviors. As a society, we should begin to ask more questions and take further action. I feel that society would be much more productive if we reached out to those in need instead of judge them. This would show those in need that there are caring people in the world. Maybe they wouldn’t feel so alone if this occurred. Programs such as Camp Healing Tree help children to deal with their feelings so they grow up to be productive members of society. Unaddressed feelings of grief and loss could lead children down a wrong path and turn their lives upside down even more. We need to make society as a whole more aware of community programs available for particular populations. As a future physical therapist, I want to have a positive impact on my patients and the community. I need to educate myself on a variety of community programs, so I can pass the necessary information along to my patients. This relates to social responsibility. While I could only give medical advice to my future patients, it is critical to never forget the bio-psychosocial model. I must remember to consider all aspects of a patient’s life to provide the best care possible.
Camp Healing Tree impacted me in more ways than I can express. It is truly a place of healing and constant support. I hope to volunteer next year and make a difference in the lives of more children.
UNDERSTANDING OF HEALTH Reflection
1. Develop an understanding of health and illness and the variety of meanings these terms carry for individuals and members of differing groups.
Working in the memory unit of a skilled nursing facility, I learned how these disorders are interpreted by all those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I spoke often with the nursing staff and they were typically very upbeat and down to earth people. They would have scheduled time to take residents for walks, however it didn’t seem to be very often and it would consistently be the same residents going on walks. Where I may see healthy living as movement and independence in that movement, the nursing staffs bigger concern was keeping people safe and if that meant sitting in the same chair for 5 straight hours then so be it. In a memory unit it is much harder to convince people to walk and be active, and since they can be very impulsive the activity they choose to do may not be appropriate for their abilities thus putting them at risk for a fall or injury. I realized how important it was to keep these residents healthy (get their meds on time, toileting, etc.) and safe, so I know if I were them I would rather have 1 or 2 people walking around and 7 on the couches rather than everyone up at once since they are outnumbered.
2. Develop a basic understanding of the multiple factors that influence health, wellness and access to services within an identified community.
The residents care and access to services in a memory unit is highly dependent on how advanced the disease process is. It seemed that they receive very few, if any services (such as OT or PT) throughout their day. Health for the residents was not being sick, taking their daily medications, and completing ADLs. I am not surprised by this just due to the sheer fact that the nurses have so many residents to look after, however they do go out of their way to talk to and engage the residents. This sometimes included getting some dancing going, or maybe even a quick game of bowling. As a physical therapist it opened my eyes to see that these people, who although may seem “lost” in our world, still deserve to get the best possible healthcare. It will always be hard, but maybe teaching family members the importance of moving so that they can plan to be more active with walks or dancing instead of sedentary activities.
3. Recognize and challenge any biases and stereotypes about individuals from differing groups, moving toward development of appreciation for individual differences.
I have volunteered in a memory unit before, so I knew what to expect for the most part. However, I still came in thinking that these are people that are lost in their own minds and just need someone to keep them grounded. I knew they didn’t know what they were doing was inappropriate or that it may be offensive, and I was prepared to brush that off of my shoulders without skipping a beat. For the most part, my assumptions were true. I had one lady who I danced with kiss my arm. After that she went and sat down and started unbuttoning her blouse and virtually flashed me! I still think that was absolutely amazing, but you have to tread lightly because what if that was my mother? I would have been horrified to see or hear she was doing that after being such a modest person. Perspective is key!
4. Adapt communication and behaviors to reflect respect for and sensitivity to individual differences.
The biggest thing I could do to improve my communication with these residents was to talk to them in THEIR here and now. There is no point in arguing with people with dementia because all you do is upset the resident as well and the nurses who have to bring them back down to earth. They don’t need family coming in saying, “Do you remember which daughter I am?” All this does is upset and confuse the resident and is plain disrespectful. If a resident told me that they were ready to go home, I would just tell them to hold on and wait for their spouse/sibling/friend that would pick them up later, and then divert them to talk about those people close to them. Many of these people were extremely good and successful people in both their work and personal lives, and even though they may not seem to “be in there,” they deserve respect and compassion. I knew that going in, and I won’t forget that as I finish. As a physical therapist, this allows me to know that many people of different backgrounds or education are going to see me and put their trust in me, and I will not diminish that trust by disrespecting them. My greatest goal is to be able to see 10 completely different people in one day, with different views, of different races, and of different backgrounds, and just simply be able to communicate and connect with each one of them.
5. Demonstrate an awareness of professional strengths and areas for development through provision of the service project.
Communication and personal connections has always been my strength throughout my teens and adult life. I am in contact with more of the parents of my high school friends than the actual guys and girls I hung out with! My biggest weakness however is my confidence. I have become really good at faking it, but I get extremely nervous when I first begin something new. I don’t enjoy being worst; I would much rather compete to be the best. When going to Brownsburg Meadows at their memory care unit, I just wanted to be able to let go and be confident. Who better to do that with than people who will more than likely forget me by the time I show up next! My first official day there with the residents I was instantly coerced into dancing, and I actually did it without complaint and it was a blast. One of the nurses and I danced with one of the residents and we had a blast entertaining all the others who were gathered around. From then on all the nurses kept making me dance and offering the residents to watch me dance or to dance with me (let me tell you about some of those ladies!). It really made me aware that if I take my time and take a step back, I can do things well and not just look confident (like a faker) but actually feel confident. It will be great if my patients feel confident in me, but I want to truly be confident so they receive the best care possible.
6. Expand a sense of professional and social responsibility beyond those defined by work or job expectations.
When in the memory care unit, it brought me back to thinking about end of life care, and healthcare for those who are dependent or need 24/7 supervision. One opinion article I read stated that Alzheimer’s disease should be an election issue because of how it continues to grow as our population ages, and is devastating Medicare. I would argue it is one of MANY issues devastating Medicare, but coming from a caregiver’s mouth it is easy to understand her concern. I feel that we have a responsibility at to local level (counties and cities) for these citizens rather than at a national level. Usually people who develop dementia/Alzheimer’s are older and potentially retired and more than likely live in the community that they have been for quite some time, with children or family in general in that area. Communities should strive to understand the burden of caregivers and create adult day care centers so that families who have to become a caregiver to a parent do not have to adjust their professional, social, and personal lives to as great of an extent. As physical therapists, we have to be advocates for our patients, and one way may be to become involved in governmental policy making or not for profit businesses aimed at creating resources for these families. If you don’t get involved that way, then maybe giving your patient or their caregiver access to resources already at hand. If the patient does not have severe medical issues besides dementia, wouldn’t it be nice to save tens of thousands of dollars a year by not having them in a memory care unit, but rather surrounded by family? At least for that initial period of time where the disease is beginning.
Beginning my service learning I came into the experience with my idea of health and wellness, biases, worries about communication, and wondering what my responsibilities would be. Through my 30 hours of service learning I was able to learn about a community different than my own, have fun, gain new perspectives, and build new professional strengths. It was a very rewarding experience that helped me to improve my understanding of health, individual differences, professional growth, and social responsibility.
Many individuals would hear the word health and lump physical and mental impairments into being unhealthy. The community at Camp Millhouse, which I had the pleasure of serving, would disagree. The campers see health in a way such as “how do I feel”. All the campers know exactly who and where the nurse’s cabin is. The campers are correct this is one aspect of health, but there are many other factors that influence health. After learning about these dimensions in class it was great to see the camp’s perspective of them, to this community health is very based in the emotional and social aspects. To quote the camp’s mission, “We are here to build self-esteem, independence, and enrich the lives of persons with special needs through unique outdoor activities and a natural setting that Camp Millhouse provides”. I can remember multiple instances where the staff would encourage each camper to be involved in a daily activity, or taking the time to work one-on-one with a camper to make sure they had a rewarding experience. It was refreshing and sparked a reminder to myself that health has a broad meaning with many influences. Sometimes coming from a healthcare mindset I recognize that I can get stuck in the routine of, are they eating right and getting enough exercise? In a sense I could say I at times think about health in a similar way as a camper. This experience showed me how much completing a craft project or socializing with another camper contributed to health just as much as the medications they took with breakfast. Being shown this broader view of health is something I will make sure to remember to implement and educate on as a physical therapist. In turn making me a better therapist and allowing for better overall health of my patients.
Growing up I had little experience around the community of individuals that Camp Millhouse serves. The little I know comes from research, brief interactions with those who have mental or physical disabilities, and what we’ve covered in class. Therefore, I am guilty of coming in with biases. I thought it would be very hard to communicate with these individuals, and that having them do certain activities like a balance beam or swimming would be extremely difficult. I was also unsure about how the campers would interact with each other. Going in I thought that Camp Millhouse would be entertaining the campers more so than having them involved minute to minute. I conclude that most of my biases come from lack of knowledge and experience. Also the image society has created for the relationship between this population of people and their caregivers rooted my biases. Some of my biases such as communication and difficulty of activities were shown to be possible by the interaction between staff and campers. It was just making modifications to communicate or make an activity feasible. Were these tasks harder than they would be for most people on a daily basis yes, but also every bit possible. To communicate I first spoke with the camp staff who knew the campers better. I wanted to make sure there weren’t any triggers to avoid. Then I just began with simple conversation such as “hello, having fun”? After this I was able to gauge what I needed to do to make the conversation flow for the camper. I was sure to take notice of who needed one on one communication and individual acknowledgement while communicating. I wanted to make sure each camper felt as if they were heard. I learned again that having assumptions only makes tasks and interactions harder because you go in with a certain outcome in your head. This is unfair and makes interactions harder for yourself. An example is how Camp Millhouse showed me how wrong my mindset of just entraining the campers was. Most of the time the campers were entertaining us. They were all so light hearted and welcoming that my assumption was thrown out the window immediately.
Through all of this I realized how much they want and seek the same things socially that we do. We are not so different, they just face more challenges than we do. Daily tasks we take for granted take more time for them and require modifications. It helped me gain even more respect for the community Camp Millhouse serves. This helped me broaden my thinking and will make me a more caring physical therapist.
Every person has strengths and weaknesses and being aware of them allows for growth. Going into this experience at Camp Millhouse I felt I had multiple strengths to work with, while having areas that need to be worked on. Knowing that we would have some campers in wheelchairs I felt my bed to wheelchair skills would be an asset. I was able to help assist with and lead transfers to and from wheelchairs. Not knowing our exact task each day my ability to go with the flow and take on any task they needed me to do was also beneficial. This ability came in hand the first morning as I was thrown into helping get ready a cabin of 11 campers for breakfast. Team work, caring, and respect are also strengths I feel that I possess. The camp staff had been there weeks before me, therefore I respected what they asked of me and their input about my performance. I was also able to work along with the camp counselors to ensure all the campers were safe and having fun. An example is when one camper needed to stay behind to use the bathroom. I and the counselors met to decide who would stay back and who would go with which campers to the next activity. I did have apprehensive thoughts going in though partially linked to the weakness I feel I have. My communication skills, accountability, toileting, and management of multiple individuals at once are areas in which I need to improve upon. On the first day I found myself being less vocal than normal or just agreeing with campers because I would be unsure of what they were saying, or I would be worried about saying the wrong thing. Also I’m used to working one on one with individuals as that is the environment you associate with physical therapy.
Managing multiple people with different needs at one time was challenged by having more than one buddy to care for at a time.
The experience also pointed out strength and weakness areas I was unaware of going into my time at Camp Millhouse. My time with the campers showed me that I have good safety instincts, but because of this I end up doing more for someone than is necessary. I need to learn to identify hazards, but better assess the individual so as to allow them to do as much as possible on their own. The camp also challenged my observation skills, but showed me how much they’ve grown and come in good use since the start of school a year ago. This whole experience showed me how important and beneficial self-assessment is. It’s what helps make a better person and PT. I was able to see if the areas I thought to be strengths really were, and it helped point out places I need to better myself in. By being shown my strengths and weakness through completing an activity is helps me to grow those areas as I work to become a physical therapist. In turn making me a better-rounded PT with strong core values that can be seen through actions.
The community served by Camp Millhouse of those with special needs is a diverse one. Socially and politically organizations that may come to mind are the Special Olympics or the Americans with Disabilities Act. These two include the population of 18 years and older that the camp is specific to. The problem I have encountered through research is that not many include those 18 and over. Children with disabilities have far more resources activity wise than adults. I researched on various websites camps that are applicable to individuals with disabilities who are 18 and over which brought to my attention the lack of camps existing for this population. I even calculated on one site that I researched only 15 camps out of 46 or 32% would have been options for someone of this population. They are also far and few in between with camps spread widely across the United States. Camp Millhouse is in a sense serving a community/population with underserved resources.
Many resources provided for this group of people is purely information based. As discussed above social and emotional health is so vitally important for any person. Camp Millhouse serves this community by providing this opportunity and does it well. Society has a duty to not only provide fun and rewarding opportunities to this population as children, but also as adults; especially, when some may not even develop a disability until later in life.
We have an obligation as physical therapists to build trust between PT’s and the public. You build trust not just by providing information, but taking action and getting involved. Camp Millhouse provides a great opportunity for physical therapists to get involved. The camp welcomes volunteers and a physical therapist could be of great benefit here. We have skills and knowledge on ADL’s, IADL’s, body mechanics, and the importance of physical activity. The campers can also show us ways to do things that maybe we haven’t thought of with our patients. It would be a great collaboration between this community and physical therapists and fills a duty of our profession to become involved. All of this information helps our profession find areas that we can help expand beyond our professional duties.
My experience at Camp Millhouse has been one that I will remember for a long time to come, and will help me to be a better physical therapist in the future. It has also assisted me in working on my skills of self-reflection and seeing things through others eyes. Overall, this was a very rewarding experience that expanded my knowledge on health, professional growth, and responsibility that will serve me well in the future. I hope that other students in the upcoming years consider this site for their service work.