Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


most popular


Slide Show

Senior Summer Camp: Nourishing One's Spirit

D.C. nonprofit sponsors retreat for low-income seniors

Saying goodbye

Mary Adams (facing) says goodbye to Eleanor Sheler. Adams, a camp counselor, was responsible for most of the craft activities. — Photo by Scott D. Eldridge

11 of 11

I have vivid memories of my summer camp experience as a young teenager. Sleeping in a musty canvas tent, poking sticks into the campfire, swamping a canoe in the middle of a lake and talking about girls were all on the program. Most of all, the long summer days hanging out with my buddies were the best part. Those memories came flooding back when I heard about a summer camp experience for senior citizens living in the Washington, D.C., area.

See also: The key to spiritual growth.

So Others Might Eat, SOME, a nonprofit social services organization in the District of Columbia, sponsors an annual retreat for low-income seniors, who are typically age 65 and older. The camp is organized into two separate one-week sessions, in which SOME transports about 60 seniors for each session from the District to a rural setting in the rolling farm hills of northern West Virginia. Once they arrive, campers spend the week relaxing, socializing and recharging their spirits away from the D.C. summer heat and grit.

But surely seniors aren’t going to swamp a canoe at camp, are they? No, but they can compete in a Nintendo Wii bowling tournament, attend daily exercise sessions or take a golf cart ride. There are crafts, morning nature walks, a trivia contest, manicures, a birthday party, a campers' talent show and daily bingo sessions with terrific donated prizes.

The camp’s theme is “Let Your Light Shine,” which is a reference to the important spiritual component of the camp experience. Campers can participate in a daily worship service or an inspiring, self-organized fellowship group, or simply enjoy a bit of solitude and reflection in the natural surrounds.

This nourishing of one’s spirit is the secret ingredient that makes the camp a success. Like my teenage camping experience, the participants gel as a group as they make new friends and share their fun and their stories. But at this camp, there is an acceptance of one another that comes from the first-hand understanding of one’s vulnerabilities and appreciation for the collective strength of spirit. It brings the group together.

Spending long summer days hanging out with your buddies at senior camp might be more fun and enriching than that teenage experience.

You may also like: Spiritual retreats. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Membership Discount Benefit Pet Plan Dog

Members save 10% on Petplan pet insurance premiums when purchasing a policy online.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.