It was a peaceful night. A small group slumbered in a small cabin in the woods after an evening of fun in the fresh outdoor air.
These were no ordinary campers, however. These were seniors from Life Care Center of Osawatomie, Kansas.
On June 28, 2017, four residents and several associates from the facility “camped” overnight, thanks to a conversation between resident Agnes Green and Activity Director Tammi Conner.
Green, who was on hospice, shared with Conner her love of the outdoors one evening while the two of them were sitting outside. Green talked about how much she loved camping, which she used to enjoy with a friend who had a camper.
Life Care Center of Osawatomie tries to fulfill residents’ “bucket list” wishes, and Conner started thinking how to make a camping trip happen for Green. She made phone calls and talked to the staff about her idea, and soon she had an overnight trip lined up to Pomona State Park in Vassar, Kansas, about an hour’s drive away.
Conner even got another local nursing and rehab center to join them on the outing, bringing an additional four residents.
“It was pretty amazing,” Conner said. “The park donated a handicap-accessible cabin, and the rangers wanted to do a program for us.”
Residents were treated to tours of the park in the rangers’ utility vehicles, as well as an educational session about local wildlife. The rangers brought out hides and skins so the seniors could see what the different animals felt like.
As the evening drew on, Friends of Pomona State Park, who had heard about the adventurous outing, showed up to enhance the experience even more. One gentleman played the guitar and led the group in singing around a campfire while the residents made s’mores.
“I hadn’t had s’mores since I was a kid in 4-H,” Green shared. “You bet I had a good time!”
Local businesses provided a pizza dinner for the campers, and the ladies enjoyed sitting outside and chatting.
After a night’s sleep in the cozy cabin, the residents awoke to enjoy fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, again provided by the community. They hoped to go fishing before heading back, but that didn’t pan out, which didn’t phase Green, who was not too fond of the sport.
“The last day, it rained cats and dogs,” Green said. “We just visited and had fun.”
“I loved everything about the trip, especially getting to know Agnes,” said fellow resident Edith Chambers.
Resident Debbie Oberheide shared that opinion. “It was all so much fun,” she said.
“I really enjoyed the tour, and the cabin was nice and comfy,” added the fourth camper, Teresa Covey.
The camping trip was a resounding success, and the facility hopes to take another group next summer.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Conner.