Skip to main content

Lise Preston

Hi…my name is Lise Preston, one of Camp Aftermath’s mental health experts and I wanted to take a few moments to share some thoughts and feelings about the Camp Aftermath program. Yes, I am a volunteer – a social work psychotherapist and I joined the team of mental health professionals of the Aftermath Association about 2 years ago – at the tail end of Camp Aftermath’s first endeavour, “Roto 1.”

I had participated in other support programs for military veterans, first responders, and front-line medical staff before so when first approached, I did so with caution. So, over the course of the next year, I engaged in the program and was able to appreciate the principles and strategies firsthand. I was able to meet and work with other members of the Aftermath Association – police officers, media experts, many mental health professionals – I was not accustomed to the breath and depth of the expertise, from the members of the direct “camp” team to the Board of Directors to the Advisory Board.
For me, the first attraction – a year-long program – is divided into three phases – pre-camp; camp; post-camp. I hadn’t heard of a “year-long” offering for those with a PTSD/OSI injury prior to this invite. Basically, the year is divided into 3 phases, all offer their own strategies in supporting the participants. Phase 1 – pre-camp – through the use of video teleconferencing technology, participants are able to “meet” each other on a weekly basis…get to know each other and the team members prior to meeting in person. Also, to learn and understand the expectations at the “camp” and the program. We usually take about a month to engage in the initial phase. Phase 2 – away camp and the philanthropic work which stands at the core of the program. Away from home and other daily routines, work is carried out in a safe and supportive environment in which all participants can speak their minds – share their thoughts and feelings ABOUT themselves and their own responses to the challenges that are experienced. The philanthropic work provides the evidence that one can give back without having to be in a specific role or profession – the “patch on the arm” is not needed in order to give – just need to be “self.” The timing for this is about 8 days. Phase 3 – back to videoconferencing sessions (initially weekly, then a shift to bi-weekly) with ongoing discussions about experiences and adjustments, if any, once the participants return home – occurs over the remainder of the year. The sense of vulnerability that many of the participants feel during the first two phases continues in this last phase – resulting in many becoming comfortable with those responses that were often discounted as being wrong or inappropriate. Anything goes for us – Camp Aftermath is not only the organization and the members who volunteer their time to it – but is a total of all the participants who have contributed by allowing themselves to be just that, themselves!

Lise Preston on Roto 2

Now, we’re in the midst of getting ready for our third rotation – an all-female cohort. Yes, the pandemic has made the planning a little challenging but we are determined to offer this program to women who have given so much of themselves for others…this year! The pandemic has not allowed us to venture to our usual “camp” in Costa Rica but we have the honour to join

with a sister charity right here in Canada — in the Eastern Townships of Québec – Camp Garagona from August 29th to September 5th. If interested, if you want to look at yourselves a little differently…understand yourselves a little differently…look at life a little differently…look at others a little differently…know that you can change a little differently – give us a call. We would only be too happy to talk with you.
Thanks for reading – enjoy!