“Dynamo Camp is the best answer to the question of why me?” This dazzling description of the camp comes from a sick teenage boy who had enjoyed a holiday at the facility. For other children and young people, Dynamo Camp is variously “a place where all children can learn what it’s like to really live,” “a world where you can make your dreams come true” and “a place where you are understood.” Others still describe it as a place “where I don’t have to be afraid of what I am” and “where someone is always about to laugh” or even “where I forget I’m sick.”
In more strictly descriptive terms, Dynamo Camp is an association which, thanks in part to Enel Cuore, treats children and young people suffering from serious or chronic illnesses, to a new and exciting experience: what is referred to more poetically than scientifically as “recreational therapy,” a way of dealing with illness by leveraging young people’s creativity and desire to have fun, to give them back both their self-confidence and hope.
Dynamo Camp, which was launched in 2007, is Italy’s only recreational therapy camp, but from the outset it has been part of a highly prestigious international network. It all began in 1988 when Paul Newman founded the first such camp in the US. An old west-style camp inspired by one of his most famous films, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Discovering hidden talents
Generally speaking, recreational therapy at the Dynamo Camp involves a holiday stay in a large facility inside a WWF reserve at Limestre, in the mountainous Pistoia Appenines. When stays are not possible, the recreational therapy can be carried out in hospitals or other social healthcare settings where the youngsters are accommodated.
According to the Camp director Vito Nigro, the most popular activities are climbing, archery, horse trekking and swimming in the pool. Sports and adventures are, however, alternated with other experiences to stimulate the young people’s artistic creativity. Nigro says that this will often reveal hidden talents: “In one of our rap music workshops, I heard a young guy singing after just three days and could hardly believe that he had actually written that song.”
It is sometimes surprising just how quickly the kids and young people begin to feel comfortable with new experiences. As one little girl declared: “Before I came to Dynamo, I thought radio would be difficult, but then I talked into a microphone and I became a real DJ!”