CAMP MOMENTIA: ‘Lifting up people living with memory loss’ this weekend at West Seattle’s Camp Long

Story and photos by Marika Lee
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Inside the lodge at Camp Long today, a group of Camp Momentia attendees got to their feet and danced with students from the University of Washington’s Musical Theater program.

The campers later sang along about the importance of hugs and took part in nature-inspired craftmaking and storytelling tailored for people with dementia/memory loss.

Camp Momentia is an annual event that has been growing in attendance since it started four years ago. About 70 people attended the two-day camp this year.

“Momentia as a movement is really about lifting up people living with memory loss as the experts of their own experience and looking to them for what they want to have happen in the community and what is important to them,” explained Cayce Cheairs (above right), who coordinated the camp as a Dementia-friendly Recreation Specialist for Seattle Parks.

The UW students researched and met with an advisory board of people with memory loss and caregivers to determine what to include in their musical revue, titled “Just a Moment.”

Cheairs said Camp Momentia is the container for everything Momentia does in the community to empower and ensure people with dementia/memory loss remain connected and engaged in their communities. She said the camp definitely saw the impact of the recently created West Seattle “Momentia in My Neighborhood” group.

“There are a lot of folks here from West Seattle. In previous years, we really didn’t have many folks from West Seattle coming to the camp. It feels like that process has really spread the movement and who is now participating and involved,” Cheairs said, adding that Providence Mount St. Vincent’s involvement in the group has also helped.

West Seattle resident Kathy Daley got involved by taking her mother to talent shows that featured her artwork.

“Everyone gets to be a person here. There isn’t just one thing that works,” Cheairs said.

Mary Firebaugh of West Seattle said she has been around with city-wide Momentia since the beginning. “It has always been fun. Even the word ‘Momentia’ was to make dementia and memory loss sound more exciting and positive, which is a sort of a questionable goal. But there is no reason we can’t get together and celebrate life and do things.”

She and Daley are working on other Momentia events in West Seattle, such as musical performances and park walks.

(Camp Momentia participants working on a dreamcatcher)

In addition to the proven health benefits for bringing people with memory loss into nature, Cheairs said Momentia presents events such as the camp to combat the narrative that people with memory loss should be hidden away.

“People with dementia have things to teach the rest of us about living in the moment and being creative and being engaged,” Cheairs said.

Momentia is a regional movement, with events and programs listed here. Find out more about Seattle Parks’ Dementia-Friendly Recreation programs here.

7 Replies to "CAMP MOMENTIA: 'Lifting up people living with memory loss' this weekend at West Seattle's Camp Long"

  • Elle Nell September 11, 2017 (7:11 am)

    Love this!! ❤️ What an amazing idea .. 

  • Gatewood September 11, 2017 (3:53 pm)

     I agree Elle!

  • Mark September 11, 2017 (7:35 pm)

    Very nice, I wish my mom, too far gone, could still do these type of events.

  • Mary S September 12, 2017 (7:51 am)

    My Dad and I had a really great time!  We are making the dream catcher in the picture above.

  • DelMartian September 12, 2017 (8:26 am)

    Most excellent. Thank you for those who make these events happen, and major kudos to those who joined in.

  • Mary S September 12, 2017 (8:33 am)

    Thanks to all who put this together! My Dad had a GREAT time. Sometimes it’s hard to get him out to enjoy himself since he’s very self-conscious about the things he can’t do and he’s a proud man. This day he was treated with kindness and dignity with fun activities targeted to things he CAN do. We had so much fun together! A special thanks to Pam Sipos from Providence Mount. St. Vincent who encouraged us to go and facilitated the day for all of us.  What a gift! <3

  • Ruthie September 21, 2017 (10:31 am)

    Absolutely a wonderful idea! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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