We recently held our first Life Skills camp and boy, did we have fun? We had a group of our big boys from our regular one to one Life Skills and Social Pragmatics programme.
The camp was specifically designed to encourage independence in their daily living. We wanted to enable them to get hands-on experience in different aspects of life like purchasing their personal care item, transportation, cookery, grocery shopping, recreational and social interaction with peers.
Here's a quick recap and our take on it.
Day 1- Social interaction and shopping for personal care items
To break the ice we first engaged in a 'get to know you' game, This was a great start and by the first hour of the day, everyone knew at least one detail about one another. We then talked about personal hygiene, created our own shopping lists and headed down to Guardian. They usually have this done for them and now that they were doing it themselves, we could see the students’ enthusiasm at this empowerment.
Day 2- Transportation and dine in at Toast box
The group were absolutely thrilled about their outing as they were looking forward to their train ride. Planning their route and exploring train station exits was something new to them. We know these kids well and have been working on two way conversations and initiating conversations with them on a one to one setting. It was really nice to see them actually chit chatting over a meal in Toast Box. What impressed us the most during our dine in was, after collecting their food individually, none of them started eating. They were all waiting for each other’s meal to arrive which was perfect table etiquette that even some adults don't have. That was not the end of the surprises, one of our more anxious kids was actually offering tissues and drinks to his friend. Another kid who usually requires quite a bit of prompting, went up to the cashier confidently and ordered his food. They made us so proud!
Day 3 - Planning, cooking and eating a meal
We paired the kids up and distributed the recipes that each pair would be cooking. On the menu today we had pasta with tomatoes, fried rice. fruit skewers and orange juice. We started off by looking at the recipes and making a shopping list. We then headed to Cold Storage to find and purchase the items on their lists. With then items in hand, we returned to AHT to begin cooking. We discussed hygiene, kitchen safety and reading and following the recipes. Everyone was given an opportunity to cut, chop, stir, etc. Some were timid at first, but as the lesson continued, they got more comfortable with the tasks. When we were done, we all sat down to sample the creations. There was no clear winner as everything was delicious. This was such a fun session and we could tell by the look on all of the students’ faces AND by how much they ate, that they were all proud of the meals that they had made!
Day 4 - Picnic in the park and yoga
We had a very busy Thursday! The first activity of the morning was going for a picnic at the park, followed by a yoga class at AHT. Before going to the picnic, we walked to the Cheers to purchase snacks and drinks. Everyone was
given a budget of S$5 and allowed to purchase something to eat. At the picnic, we chatted and the kids were encouraged to ask follow up questions to keep the conversation going. Everyone shared their snacks and chatted openly. It was really refreshing!
Then we headed back for our yoga lesson. The class started with several breathing exercises, and then progressed to poses. The kids were very receptive and really tried to follow along. Many of the poses required both physical control and mental focus, and they were very engaged, some for the entire lesson, others for part of the lesson. When they couldn’t quite get a pose at first, they continued to try and did not give up—so as much as this was a mental and physical activity, it was also an exercise in perseverance. The yoga practice was a calming way to end the session. Thanks to Archana from Ojas Yoga
Day 5 - Bowling!
Today was our last and most exciting day of Camp. We were going bowling! We arrived at the bowling alley, got our bowling shoes, selected bowling balls and sat down at our lane to go over some bowling tips and techniques. One kid really tried to work on technique, while two others used the techniques they had already developed, and yet another just took joy in rolling the ball down the lane in whatever way possible. They waited patiently between rounds, and practiced encouraging others by offering kind words and high-fives. When asked if they would like to bowl again with friends, there was a resounding “yes!”. When we returned to AHT after bowling, the kids were presented with a photo album containing pictures of themselves and their friends participating in all of the activities throughout the week.
Over the week, we had seen the kids trying new activities and making new friends in the process. It helped them become more confident, more independent, and increase their self-esteem. We could see positive changes and the benefits of having the group activities. We had such an amazingly fun week!