BILLINGS – The Stroke Retreat Camp in Red Lodge takes place Oct. 12 through 14.
It is a two-and-a-half day camp held at Rock Creek Resort for stroke survivors and their caregivers.
For one woman, the camp gives her hope and a place where she feels she belongs.
“Everybody can get together and talk about things that they have in common, and see that they’re not so alone, and learn from one another and go home just a little bit more rejuvenated and ready to tackle the things that are in front of them, and camp does that for the people that come after they’ve had their stroke,” stroke program nurse Penny Clifton said.
On-site there will be medical staff, and therapists specializing in anything from music, to speech.
There will be karaoke, food, and many activities.
“Getting out of bed is therapy. Making a meal, dressing and bathing, it’s all so altered that your engagement in it becomes therapy,” Clifton said.
The retreat also addresses the needs of caregivers.
“This is the death of the life we thought we were going to have together, and so what’s helpful for them is to come and understand that grief as well and there is a catharsis and a relief in being able to share that with someone else who is going through it. So it’s a bit of an exhale before they have to go home and re-engage in it again,” Clifton said.
Robbie Erickson suffered a stroke 13 years ago.
“You know, just getting up in the morning is a big challenge and it’s very scary because you don’t know if you’re going to get up and fall down. My balance is so bad anymore,” Erickson said.
The stroke was on the right side of her brain. She lost control of her left arm and leg.
“I lost a lot of friends right after my stroke. They didn’t want to deal with me. My own daughter said to me, ‘Mom, you’re different.’ I don’t feel different. Because I can’t walk, because I can’t use my arm, makes me different from everybody else? Well I’m not, and when I’m at camp I’m right in there, I fit right into that. I feel comfortable. I can do it. When you get to camp, it’s a relief. I mean it just drains you, cause you know you’re safe. You’re with the same people. You had a stroke. We all had a stroke. So we’re all in the same boat,” Erickson said.
Robbie has been attending the retreat for half a decade.
“Who can make 20 stroke survivors get up and dance? And they do. We’re all dancing at the end. We’re all smiling. We’re all having fun. These people just bring out the best in you, and I think it’s wonderful,” she said.
There are still spots available for the retreat. Transportation can be provided if required.
For more information about the camp, or to register, contact Peggy Clifton at 237-7965, or at strokecamp.org.
Reporting by Jenny Fick for MTN News