Thankful Thoughts A message from Carissa

Dear Friends: If you are like me, starting with Thanksgiving and through the end of the year I spend time reflecting on the past year. Did I accomplish my goals? Am I in a better place professionally/personally? While this year may not be the year to reflect critically (it definitely hasn’t gone like anyone planned back in January), it has taught me several things:

1. Be happy where you are.

While we are constantly looking to better ourselves, we often forget to be happy with what we have accomplished and take a moment to stop looking for better. It is easy to lose sight of what you can be happy about, when you are always looking for more or better. While this was a trying year, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself not holding summer camp, I found joy in reflecting on all of the people I have met over the years. I’ve watched campers grow into adults, even seeing them one week a year I am so happy to watch them be happy and thriving. I’ve seen staff and AmeriCorps members grow into people who make a difference in their communities, through their careers, their families, or their volunteering. I am truly fortunate to be a part of so many lives, and appreciate they let me be.

2. Be kind.

When faced with a new global challenge, we all found we don’t know what we are doing. I know how to do camp. I had to learn how to do camp in a pandemic, and I definitely have lots more to learn. As we don’t know each other’s struggles – from family to finances to self-worth – it is best to assume that we are all doing what we can, and that may be at a different level than me. One of the greatest lessons I have learned and share with staff at camp when they may be frustrated with a co-counselor, is that we all are doing our best. While someone may look like they are slacking because you have more experience or skills, they may be doing the best they can…it just may be not your best. And that’s ok, that’s what makes the world the weird and wonderful place it is. We all are here to help each other along.

3. Be generous.

We don’t all have the financial means to make big donations to non-profits or buy our friends and family the things we would like, but we can be generous. Generous with our time and calling Grandma more often to check in. Generous with our talents and sharing crafts we made with loved ones, sewing masks for our communities, or adopting a cat in need of a home at the Humane Society shelter. Even being generous with our donations, while I may not be able to give the $1,000 donation to a non-profit I love on Giving Tuesday, I know that my $20 will be much appreciated.

4. Be you.

Paint. Hike. Run. Sing. Binge watch tv shows. Bake. Read. Write. Cry. None of us know what this life will bring, and we have watched people we know and love become sick and/or pass. Never regret being you and doing what you love.

An amazing team

I may not have accomplished all of the goals I set out for myself this year, but you know what? I am part of a truly amazing team who are dedicated to making camp possible. From Wayne and Terri who make sure things are safe at camp, to Alex and Jamie who make sure campers are registered and plan all of the programs. Nurse Jen, Sarah, and Dr. Cornell have guided us through the medical decisions we have to make. Anna supports our wonderful AmeriCorps members, while Hayley recruits our volunteers. James, Ren, and Emily take care of everything in the office from billing to reminder notices, and Cally writes the grants to keep us going. Stacey makes us look good, and Rachel is always looking for new funding source for us. Stevie is doing what she can to support the team from Australia, and Paul is always there to support our needs. I have cats to love, yarn to create with, and birds to feed…and that makes it a successful year.

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Mask Talk A message from the Camp Director

Hi Friends! Let’s talk about masks.

We have all heard or read that the CDC recommends wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. It has even been proven to work in other countries, as well as communities around the US, where we have seen numbers of new cases go down when everyone works together. Some countries are opened up and back to normal (or as close to normal as they cautiously can be). Meanwhile, here we are in Wisconsin with people testing positive more and more each day. More people are getting sick, and sadly, more people are passing away than most areas of the country. When you look at the map of hot spots, Wisconsin is bright red! What can be done? Wear a mask if you go out in public, and stay home if you can. It’s pretty simple actually.

Think of the Campers with Compromised Immune Systems

You may have heard that we cancelled camp for the summer – it was one of the most difficult and awful decisions we have had to make. All of us that work at camp do so because…well, we LOVE camp. We love when camp is full of happy campers having the time of their lives in the pool and singing songs around the campfire. Taking long rides on the tractor wagons. Many of our campers have compromised immune systems and could get very sick if they came in contact with the virus. We knew we wouldn’t be able to follow the social distancing guidelines and make sure everyone was safe in places like the pool or tractor wagons while at camp. We definitely knew we couldn’t control what anyone did outside of camp, so we decided to cancel to keep everyone healthy.

Moving Forward

Now it is October and the virus is still spreading rampantly in Wisconsin. We are committed to doing what we love and started offering camp on the weekends again. As we rethink everything we do at camp to keep our campers and staff members safe while they’re here, our biggest concern continues to be what happens to our campers and staff while they aren’t at camp. Who are they coming in contact with? Is everyone they are around wearing masks when in public areas? Is everyone we, as staff, come in contact with getting tested and quarantining when needed?

Wear a mask!

This brings me to my plea. Wear a mask! It really isn’t difficult, and they really aren’t that expensive. There are disposable ones you can just wear once and throw away. Now you can even get cool masks from many of your favorite retailers representing sports teams or other things you love. They are the new, cool t-shirt, if you ask me. Some of us have a mask that grandma made out of one of grandpa’s old shirts – cool! Check out the CDC website if you want to review guidelines or have questions. We’ve been hearing about this for a while. By now wearing a mask should be a common thing, but strangely and sadly it isn’t.

Why the plea?

To be honest, I am not afraid of getting COVID-19. I am fairly healthy, and those I live with and around are all healthy. What I am afraid of is bringing this deadly virus to our camp, and passing it along to one of our campers. It would take just one case and we’d have to close again. And it isn’t even about us. The hard truth is that someone could die because someone brought the virus to camp. It is that simple. While you who are reading this may be thinking “I don’t work at camp, it doesn’t affect me and I don’t need to wear a mask,” you know what? You may come in contact with one of us who does work at camp! Or maybe someone who works at a day services program, a group home or nursing home, a hospital, or someone who lives with loved ones with compromised immune systems – the list could go on. Out of respect for all of us who just want to do our jobs and provide the services we love providing – please, wear the mask.

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Camp Is On! A message from the Camp Director

Here we are!

It has been a long time coming, friends, and we are happy to be offering camp once again! As you can imagine, our hearts were broken over not holding camp this summer. When everything shut down in the spring, moving into summer we felt there was too much risk. We were not confident we could keep keep everyone healthy, and too large of groups to manage safely. During that time, we kept up the grounds and fixed up buildings, all with the anticipation of opening camp again in the near future. And now here we are!

Rethinking Camp

As you can imagine, operating camp in times of a pandemic has made us rethink EVERYTHING we do! From how we serve meals to passing out medications, how we check in campers to staffing our programs — we’ve taken a closer look at every detail.

Our medical team, consisting of Nurse Jen, Nurse Sarah, and Dr. Cornell, have helped us all along the way. We couldn’t be holding camp without their input! More than anything in the world, we would hate for someone to become sick at camp because of something we missed. Masks are required at all times by all staff and AmeriCorps members. They will wear face shields when any camper requires help eating or brushing their teeth.

Family members aren’t allowed into the sleeping areas in an effort to keep as few people as possible out of compromising areas. We are plating meals and not offering a buffet. Medications are passed in the dining hall instead of having a line at the nurse station.

Perhaps we are going a bit overboard on the planning; but to keep our campers, families, and staff/AmeriCorps members safe, we don’t feel there is too much that could be done. We are intentionally keeping our sessions small as we navigate changes. As we become more comfortable and confident in our methods we will then work towards hosting more campers.

AmeriCorps Training

We held our AmeriCorps training with 9 new members, and are so excited to have them be a part of our camp adventures moving forward. This was a great chance for us to practice the procedures that we have been putting into place over the past several months. We have a great group of young people (Carissa here, and I’m old) joining us, and can’t wait to be a part of the wonderful things they do at camp!

Veterans Family Camp

Our Veterans Family Camp was held September 26-27 (just one night instead of two). We welcomed 8 veterans and 15 family members to camp, and showed them just what camp fun is all about. There was tie-dying, pumpkin carving, a campfire with songs, and we even honored 3 veterans at our Quilts of Valor presentation held Saturday night. We were happy to have camp open again, and see many happy families as they left on Sunday.

First Respite Camp Weekend

We held our first Respite Camp weekend October 9-11, and it was a great time! We truly appreciate all of our families’ patience at check-in, and following all of the guidelines to record each camper’s temperature and symptoms for two weeks before they arrived. The AmeriCorps members and staff did a great job following the guidelines, wearing their masks and encouraging their campers to wear theirs (understandably, some campers won’t wear them for different reasons). They worked hard to keep areas disinfected, and most of all making those great connections with our campers and helping them have a great time.

Spacing Out Weekend Sessions

Our schedule is intentionally spaced out more than it has been in the past, allowing two weeks between each program, whether at Respite Camp or Camp Wawbeek. This gives us time to hear from families and/or staff members if they have developed any symptoms or have any concerns we need to follow up on. Our next scheduled camp session is our Transitions Camp at Camp Wawbeek, to be held October 23-25. Transitions has become a popular camp session for many young adults who want to learn and/or practice life skills, all while hanging out with other campers their age.

We are fully aware that the time may come that we do not feel it safe to move forward offering our programs.  Until then, we are going to do what we can to make camp happen!

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Events to Support Camp! Virtual 5k & Drive-Thru Pancakes

We are all learning to do things differently, so this year we are hosting a Virtual 5k and Drive-Thru Pancake Breakfast! We want to keep everyone safe and healthy, but that doesn’t mean we stop having fun and supporting Easterseals Wisconsin Camps! Join us for the Virtual 5K Run, Ramble and Roll from September 27 to October 11 and support Easterseals Wisconsin Camps! This virtual event will take place over two weeks so you can participate safely from home! Participate with your family, and even your furry pets, as a one-time 5k or log your miles over the two week span of the virtual 5k. If you do choose to visit camp, please reserve a time when you purchase your ticket below. The Drive-Thru Pancake Breakfast is held at Easterseals Wisconsin Camp Wawbeek (1450 Hwy 13, Wisconsin Dells). This year’s event will be Drive-Thru only on Sunday, October 4, 2020 from 9:00 am – 11:30 am. Click on the tickets button below to place your order (by Oct.1) and schedule a time to pick up your breakfast!

Poisonous Weeds of Wisconsin A message from Dr. Cornell

Summer is a great time to explore Wisconsin’s abundant outdoors, but camping, biking or hiking can lead to encounters with poisonous plants that cause skin irritation and injuries when touched. Knowing these types of plants can help with avoiding them, minimizing the level of damage following exposure and taking other necessary precautions. Here are five common poisonous plants that should not be touched. Continue readingPoisonous Weeds of Wisconsin A message from Dr. Cornell

Be Aware of Tickborne Diseases in Wisconsin A message from Dr. Cornell

With the summer months comes the eagerness to be outside and enjoy outdoor activities. This is especially true now with the COVID-19 pandemic and having been cooped up in the house for several months. However, we must remember that there are other diseases that we can contract outdoors.

The most common disease is Lyme’s Disease. But they also can carry anaplasmosis and babeosis. Lyme’s disease and anaplasmosis are caused by bacteria. Babeosis is caused by a small parasite. These bacteria and parasites are transferred to humans and pets through the tick bite.

Click here to read the full article from Dr. Cornell!

Mosquito Borne Illness in Wisconsin A PSA from Dr. Cornell!

Mosquito Borne Illness in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the most common mosquito-borne diseases are West Nile Virus and La Crosse Encephalitis. Residents who travel to other countries can also be at risk for travel-related diseases, such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever or Zika virus infection.

The Midwest also has one of the higher rates of reported mosquito-borne diseases in the country, especially in states like Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. These diseases include West Nile virus, dengue, and Jamestown Canyon virus, according to the CDC.

There are many illnesses spread by mosquitoes in Wisconsin. Not all mosquitoes spread illnesses, and you won’t get sick from every mosquito bite, but it is important to make sure you are aware of mosquitoes, the illnesses they can spread, and how to prevent bites in the first place.

Mosquitoes 101:

• Basics: Mosquitoes are a type of fly. In Wisconsin, there are many types of mosquitoes, but only some types can spread illnesses. Most people who get sick from a mosquito bite will become ill in the summer and early fall. This is when mosquitoes are most active and people are outdoors.

• Life Cycle: Mosquitoes have a life cycle that includes four different stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs on or near water, and the eggs hatch after coming into contact with the water. After hatching, the larvae will feed until they have enough energy to change into pupae. The pupae then grow into adult mosquitoes, the only flying stage. Only adult female mosquitoes bite humans and other animals to get blood meals, after which they lay their eggs on or near water, starting the cycle again. The life cycle of a mosquito usually takes two weeks. However, it can range from four days to one month.

• Habitat: Mosquitoes live in areas with slow-moving or stagnant water, as well as forests, marshes, and tall grasses. Mosquitoes fly and land on animals or humans to bite the host’s skin and consume blood. Warmer and wetter climates can increase the risk of getting an illness from a mosquito. In Wisconsin, climate change has created favorable conditions for mosquitoes to survive in more areas of the state, has made the mosquito season longer, and allows infected mosquitoes to spread diseases faster.

• In general, mosquitoes can be divided into two different types based on the habitats where they lay their eggs: standing water mosquitoes and floodwater mosquitoes. Most mosquito eggs need small amounts of water to hatch and develop into adult mosquitoes.

• Prevention: The best way to avoid getting sick from a mosquito is to prevent bites in the first place. There are many ways to prevent mosquito bites, including wearing insect repellent and wearing appropriate clothes when you are outdoors.

Click Here to Learn More About West Nile

Be Aware of Heat Related Illnesses A PSA from Dr. Cornell!

Heat Related Illness

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies cannot properly cool themselves by sweating. Sweating is the body’s natural air conditioning, but when a person’s body temperature rises rapidly, sweating just isn’t enough. Heat-related illnesses can be serious and life threatening. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs, and can cause disability and even death. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It happens when the body’s temperature rises quickly and the body cannot cool down. Heat Stroke can cause permanent disability and death.

Heat Exhaustion is a milder type of heat – related illness. It usually develops after a number of days in high temperature weather and not drinking enough fluids.

Heat Cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during demanding activity. Sweating reduces the body’s salt and moisture and can cause painful cramps, usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. Because heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable, people need to know who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken.

Who is at risk? Those at highest risk include the elderly, the very young, people with mental illness and people with chronic diseases. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in demanding physical activities during hot weather. Other conditions that can increase your risk for heat-related illness include obesity, fever, dehydration, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug or alcohol abuse.

How to Prevent Heat-Related Illness

Here’s how you can protect yourself from heat related illnesses:
  • Drink plenty of non-carbonated liquids like water or electrolyte-enriched liquids to replace fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Avoid liquids that have alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar because they will speed up fluid loss.
  • Stay in air-conditioned areas such as malls, libraries, movie theatres and community centers. Even a few hours can cool your body’s temperature.
  • If you feel very hot, cool off by taking a cool bath or shower. Opening a window or using a fan may not prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Do not cool children in alcohol baths. Cool, plain water baths or moist towels work best.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, such as cotton, so sweat can evaporate.
  • NEVER leave anyone in closed, parked cars during hot weather. That includes all pets.
  • Do not bundle babies in blankets or heavy clothing. Infants do not tolerate heat well because their sweat glands are not fully developed. If you must be in the heat, here are some things you should do:
    • Drink plenty of liquids such as water, sports drinks but no alcohol. Limit physical activity to early morning and evening. Avoid physical activity or exercise between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – typically the hottest part of the day.
    • Wear a wide-brimmed, vented hat or use an umbrella because your head absorbs heat easily.
    • Put on sunglasses and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
    • Rest often in shady areas.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke

Signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

What to do for Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you see someone with these warning signs have someone call 911 for immediate medical assistance and begin cooling the victim:
  • Get the victim to a shady area.
  • Cool the victim quickly using whatever you can – put them in a tub or shower of cold water; spray them with cold water from a garden hose; sponge them with cold water.
  • Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  • If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.
  • Do not give the victim fluids to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Heat Exhaustion

This is the body’s response to losing a lot water and salt that’s in sweat. People most likely to get heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Fainting
Also, the skin may be cool and moist. The victim’s pulse will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may develop into heat stroke.

What to do for Heat Exhaustion

Seek medical attention immediately (call 911) if the symptoms are severe or the victim has heart problems or high blood pressure. Otherwise, cool off the victim, and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or last longer than one (1) hour. The victim can cool off by doing the following:
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Rest in a cool or air-conditioned place.
  • Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
  • Put on lightweight clothing. Heat Cramps Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during demanding activity. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

What to do for Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are muscle spasms and pain that occur during heavy sweating during intense exercise. If medical attention is not necessary, take these steps:
  • Stop all activity, and sit quietly in a cool place. Remove unnecessary clothing i.e. jackets, sweaters etc.
  • Drink water, clear juice or a sports beverage.
  • Do not return to demanding activity for a few hours after the cramps have stopped. Further activity could lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Seek medical attention (call 911) for heat cramps if they do not subside within an hour or if the person has heart problems or is on a low-sodium (salt restricted) diet.

Sunburn

  • Painful, red, and warm skin
  • Blisters on the skin
How to treat a sunburn:
  • Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals
  • Put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath
  • Put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas
  • Do not break the blisters. If the blisters become more inflamed suggesting an infection seek medical care immediately or if a fever develops. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used for the discomfort. Ice packs may also give relief from the pain. Be sure to put a towel between the burn and the ice pack.

Heat Rash

  • Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases) blisters
  • Stay in a cool, dry place
  • Keep the rash dry
  • Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash

Sunscreen

Sunscreen needs to be applied approximately 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Use a sunscreen that is at least a SPF 30. It needs to be re-applied about every two hours especially if swimming or sweating a lot. Also wearing a hat and sun shirt also helps prevent sunburn.

When applying both insect repellent and sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends applying sunscreen before insect repellent, and letting the sunscreen fully absorb into the skin for 10 minutes before putting on insect repellent. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every couple of hours to remain effective. Yet insect repellent only needs to be reapplied every three to six hours, depending on the product’s strength.

Source of material: CDC (Center for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization)