Posted by: ayrshirehealth | October 29, 2014

Laura’s blog by @lauraholmesOT

Bazooka Bubble Gum

6.45am wake up call, sun splitting the trees and the usual fight to get into the shared bathroom… dragging on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt trying to prepare myself for the day. USA flagFrom there it would be a “leisurely stroll” around the camp grounds to make sure all the staff were up to get the campers ready (with some help if required) and to be at the flag pole for 8.15am.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America..”

Then the 120+ campers and staff would make their way table by table into the dining hall for the first meal of the day. BUT not before we sang grace!

Camp Merry HeartAfter each meal we also sang camp songs…some of our favourites included Bazooka Bubble Gum and Crazy Moose (which I am now singing in my head!). screen-capture-18

Then it was back to the cabins to get ready for the day’s activities… Sports & games, Arts & crafts, Boating and fishing, Ropes and zip line, dance and drama, nature and science, swimming…

This summer I was given the opportunity to work as a Lead Counsellor at a camp for children and adults with disabilities. Camp Merry Heart in Hackettstown, New Jersey was to become my home from home and introduced me to some of the most inspirational people I have had the pleasure of getting to know.

It’s difficult to put into words what this summer has meant to me, I’ve grown as a person, developed new skills, accepted different cultures and had fun while doing it!

10 things I learnt

So what did I get from the experience? 10 things I learnt at camp…

  1. I have organisation skills I never knew existed!
  2. I like helping people – I am a total people pleaser and instead of getting annoyed at myself for it I’m embracing it!
  3. I can be heard(despite the quiet voice) and my opinions matterIce poles
  4. The more you put into something the more you get out of it
  5. I have valuable skills/knowledge and experience to share
  6. I don’t need technology to survive – it’s actually nice to be cut off from the rest of the world
  7. I can supervise and evaluate staff
  8. People are not always what they seem, everyone has the ability to surprise you
  9. I can adapt my practice to fit other cultures and accept other cultural beliefs
  10. We may both speak English but Scottish is a whole different language all on its own…ICE POLES are not ICE POLES anywhere else!!!

Occupational Therapy

What will it change in my practice as an Occupational Therapist?

I think it has made me more open minded especially to change. screen-capture-19I like to know what’s happening, when it’s happening, why is happening, who is responsible for it happening and how it will affect me and my role. If I have that information in enough time to get to grips with it then bring on the change!

screen-capture-20I hope it has given me the assertiveness to challenge my own practice and that of others especially in a period of change for both health and social care.

There could be many different ways to provide a service but I hope it would be truly person centred with the flexibility to tailor services to the individuals rather than the other way around.



I’d like to take this opportunity to thank NHS Ayrshire & Arran and specifically the Occupational Therapy department for supporting me during this time. I was granted a period of Sabbatical leave to allow me to go to camp and then return to work.

I hope that anyone who has ever considered doing something like this takes the chance and grabs the experience with both hands. There are policies out there to help you get there…if you believe you can then you are half way there!

This week’s blog was written by @lauraholmesOT (Laura Holmes) Occupational Therapist in NHS Ayrshire & Arran.






  1. Great blog Laura.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it Audrey 🙂

  2. I loved reading your blog, Laura! I personally feel that we need to take time, every now and then, to revisit “ourselves” – what we may already know about ourselves, but have lost touch with. We lose touch with ourselves and we are important! What is it that they say in CBT, if we don’t embrace ourselves then how can we expect anyone else to!

    • Thank you Karen for taking the time to read it. I totally agree with you! Its something that is so valuable to me both professionally and on a personal level. I gained more than I ever thought possible from it and am so grateful that I had the chance. 🙂

  3. How wonderful. Well done you… most inspiring!

  4. […] blog is a follow on blog from Laura’s first blog in October […]

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