The FCM American Indian Wellness Camp was adapted to Camp in a Box this past summer and just successfully concluded. The camp included two months of booster sessions and ran from July 6 – September 4, 2020. Sixty-seven youth and 14 American Indian families participated, including youth (aged 2-18 years; 53% youth), parents, grandparents, nieces, aunts, uncles, and cousins (47% adults).
The camp is led annually by FCM's Francine Gachupin, PhD, MPH, associate professor.
Camp boxes were shipped out one week in advance so there was no in-person contact. Every box contained educational information on nutrition, physical activity, mental health, parenting, and fun family activities. For example, families participated in rock painting, scratch art, tie dying, making dreamcatchers, playing charades, etc.
Families were provided with snacks and several family boxes over the course of nine weeks to offset food insecurity and to also promote healthy eating. The primary points of contacts were the parents and telephone-based evaluations were done weekly. Recognizing that this is a stressful time, weekly mind-body-medicine (MBM) Zoom sessions were held in the latter part of the camp, and sessions were led by Dr. Noshene Ranjbar, Dept. of Psychiatry.
"We received a lot of positive feedback from our 'Camp in a Box," said Dr. Gachupin.
"I like all information that you guys provide and how you guys walk us through step by step for the activities," wrote one parent. "The kids look forward to everything and are excited to do the activities. The kids take the initiative themselves to look at the materials and read them."
The camp team included Dr. Gachupin, Jackie Slowtalker, Ty Figueroa, Keyauni Tracy, Robert Blew, and Shayna Swick.
The camp program was made possible by generous support from the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation, Cardinal Charities, Association on American Indian Affairs, Marin Community Foundation, Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention, Tucson Conquistadores, and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
"We truly appreciate the support of FCM faculty and staff members especially Julie Armin, Tammy Bassford, Jennie Joe, Deanne Kelly, Jessie Pettit, Evelyn Rens, Nick Rivas, Valerie Sipp and Darci Slaten," said Dr. Gachupin.
More photos from Camp in a Box can be viewed on the AI Wellness Camp Facebook page.