Hill Country summer camp makes aging cool for seniors

Organizers say the health benefits are the same for seniors and kids

Settling into Camp Meraki (KXAN Photo)
Settling into Camp Meraki (KXAN Photo)

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — S’mores around the campfire, kayaking and archery — sounds like a good ol’ fashioned summer camp for kids.

At one camp this weekend, the participants are decades older. Organizers said the camp makes aging cool and keeps participants healthy.

Susie Ishibashi knows the first rule of summer camp: arrive early to grab the best bunk. “The main reason why I signed up was that it was air-conditioned cabins. And ceiling fans,” said the 63-year-old camper.

She is spending the weekend at Camp Meraki in Wimberley this weekend — a camp for senior citizens only.

It was created by Aging is Cool, a group that runs senior activities in Austin and the surrounding area.

“This is full on kids camp,” said Amy Temperley, who developed Aging is Cool and the camp with her husband. “We are singing, dancing, canoeing, archery and silly games. This is not grown ups fun. This is reliving your childhood.”

Temperley said Camp Meraki, which means “doing things with passion” in Latin, is an enormous health benefit for campers. It allows them to keep fit, while taking in the great outdoors and making new friends.

“A statistic I saw the other day said isolation is like smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day,” Temperley said. So, we really want to get them engaged and make new friends.”

Stephen Cavender, 65, said his wife heard about the camp and roped him in, and this weekend feels like a role reversal. The camp counselors are old enough to be his grandchildren and his adult children have signed off on the weekend getaway.

“They’re OK with it,” he said of his children. “We did bring our cell phones.”

If all goes well at Camp Meraki this weekend, organizers say they plan to do it again with double the number of participants. Organizers said most of the campers are quite fit, but there are nurses on hand this weekend, just in case.

Campers paid about $400 for the weekend camp. If you would like to attend the next summer camp through Aging is Cool, click here.

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