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Warm Beach Camp — a Tropical Paradise!

By Matthew Lambert, Guest Services Associate

Each year, Warm Beach Camp serves many different guest groups, providing facilities and services to support conference and retreat programs run by other non-profit organizations. Occasionally, a group comes to WBC with a unique approach to their time here. One such group who came recently, the Arthritis Foundation Families, held a retreat for kids and teens with rheumatic diseases, and their families, called “KAT-FISH” Camp.

The theme of their camp was “Escape to Paradise.” According to the KAT-FISH newsletter, 50 families loaded their bags with sunglasses, sunscreen, straw hats, and Hawaiian print T-shirts, and traveled from as far away as Alaska to reach their “tropical destination” … Warm Beach Camp!

Family, or “ohana” in Hawaiian, was the centerpiece of the weekend. Highlights included an arthritis-friendly hula performance and lesson set to Hawaiian music, and hula-hoop and limbo contests. The kids also experienced all of the summer camp activities WBC is known for like the high ropes course, climbing tower, and draft horse wagon rides.

Parents had the opportunity to enrich their rheumatic disease knowledge with seminars on topics such as arthritis 101, reflexology, pain management, diet and inflammation, and stress management techniques.

Established in 1948, the Arthritis Foundation exists to provide support for families who are dealing with rheumatic diseases – the more than 100 types of arthritis and its related conditions. An annual retreat has been a part of their program for the past five years, but this was their first time to WBC.

These are just a few of the comments taken from the evaluations after their event:

“Thank you for being so friendly and giving my family this opportunity.”

“Very friendly, fun, safety is #1 concern of your staff.”

“Thank you for a nice warm pool for my children.”

Julie Gabeleins, the leader for the Arthritis Foundation Families said, “Whether KAT-FISH families remember their high-ropes experience, an interesting fact from the parent track, or the laughter at the talent show, there is one shared experience that all the families took away with them-that for one weekend their children living with arthritis and their siblings, as a 13-year-old KAT-FISH participant put it, could all “be the same.” That truly is paradise found.

Warm Beach Camp may not be the tropical paradise that most people think of, but there is a warmth here that a lot of people tell us they feel. Julie stated that, “… there is something different about this place than other places we have gone to.” We call it, “Keeping the path clear to Cross.” It is the mission that Warm Beach Camp is called to.

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