Research Reports - The experience of a recreational camp for families with a child or young person with acquired brain injury

Katrina J. Luzinat, Penelope Analytis, Amelia J. Hicks, Narelle Warren & Jennie L. Ponsford
Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, DOI: 10.1080/09602011.2018.1461657

The Heads Together organisation provides a weekend camping programme for children with an acquired brain injury (ABI) and their families. Utilising a qualitative approach, this study explored family experiences of the Heads Together Camp (HTC) from the perspective of parents. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 parents who had attended the camp. Thematic analysis identified six themes: ABI and the family; Apprehension and discomfort; Connections and community; Hope and perspective; Fun, relaxation and respite; and Family functioning. Families experienced initial feelings of apprehension at camp, which attenuated as connections developed between camp attendees. These connections were grounded in shared experiences of ABI and enabled families to become part of an accepting community, feel less alone and share information. The camp environment also facilitated fun and relaxation, provided families with hope and perspective, and led to improvements in family relationships. Overall, recreational camps may mitigate some stressors experienced by families affected by ABI. Camps could be used to support families by providing them with connections, fun and relaxation, a sense of normality and hope for the future. Thus, recreational camps may represent an effective allied support service for this population.

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