Winter Therapeutic Sports Camp in Piwniczna-Zdrój

08 kwietnia 2023

We have just completed our winter therapeutic sports camp for youth from residential care institutions in Supraśl, Białowieża, and Krasne – 17 of our charges participated! Being with the beneficiaries all the time during the camp was a fantastic opportunity to get to know them in different situations. It was an intensive week of winter activities, including psychological workshops and the Academy for Young Financiers.

Going to the mountains during winter break is always a great adventure that helps build relationships. When we entered the hotel from the freezing weather, we warmed up with the emotions of the group. The weather seemed to contribute to the formation of bonds – the lower the mercury in the thermometer, the stronger the sense of community and the atmosphere of trust in the sanctuary.

From one workshop to another, and the fun never ends!

The camp is primarily an opportunity for personal development and individual work with the youth. The mix of characters and personalities only strengthens the belief that the support is heading in the right direction. We are dealing with beautiful young people – with all their flaws and virtues – who are facing a slightly steeper uphill battle in life compared to their peers. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt if they sometimes lean on the foundation’s shoulder.

Certainly, the psychological workshops were a help in addressing deep-rooted issues. Initially, they were met with a cold reception from the participants. It was not surprising, as avoiding pain is a basic instinct that works equally for the psyche and the body. It means work needs to be done – and like any work, it requires concentrated effort. Just like a well-placed investment, the costs pay off with positive emotional capital from the start. We not only learned to closely observe our own emotions and bring order to our inner selves but also to recognize and manage anger constructively. As a result, not only did the participants’ assertiveness increase, but they also became even closer friends: within the group and with themselves.

The weather seemed to contribute to the formation of bonds – the lower the mercury in the thermometer, the stronger the sense of community and the atmosphere of trust in the sanctuary.

Emotions were unleashed not only during introspective explorations but also in discussions about finances. Money always spins the wheel of expectations, dreams, and ambitions – also in a positive sense. For us, conducting workshops as part of the Academy for Young Financiers and the Junior Project Manager project unit is an incredibly important support for the foundation’s mission: providing youth with tools for independence. Through collective efforts, the charges gained professional qualifications, the ability to save (or more broadly, manage a budget), and prepared themselves for responsible adulthood. The topics covered in some of the training sessions, allowing a better understanding of financial instruments (loans, negotiations with banks) or motivating for self-consumption, would certainly be useful to many adults as well.

How to move mountains?

Belief in oneself (mixed in the right proportions with responsibility) allows us to move (Pieniny) mountains. The camp in Piwniczna-Zdrój also offered sports challenges! Throughout the week, we hiked (or rather „hiked-lifted”) to Jaworzyna and explored Wąwóz Homole. Of course, we faced typical winter mountain driving difficulties (we barely dug out our van). Additionally, we had the opportunity to go skiing and practice ice skating. The latter had an integration aspect, as adults also overcame their fears with the support of the entire group. Organizing our own winter Olympics was a unique chance for challenges beyond our everyday lives. The memory of racing down the slalom will accompany our mornings at school and work for a long time.

Furthermore, we participated in inclusive and entertaining activities within the warm confines of indoor spaces. Among them, we enjoyed pizza baking workshops. We also had some sporty fun in swimsuits at the pool instead of ski suits.

We had a week filled with genuine qualities. When we remember our trip to Piwniczna-Zdrój, it won’t be the details of management or financial negotiations that stand out, but the funny situations and the spirit of our close-knit group. It was pleasant, and we built a great atmosphere of mutual kindness. Despite the harsh winter, we generated a lot of warmth [emotionally].

Now, after the camp, we are working on continuing the paths we’ve forged by offering individual support (such as psychotherapy or scholarships). Most likely, we will all meet again at our interdisciplinary summer camp!

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