Initially, an article about a “growth camp” for menopause made me want to laugh. Maybe you have memories of going to summer camp or are in the throes of planning your kids’/grandkids’ summer experiences. But, is camp what you conjure up when you take a minute to consider how you want to go through menopause? Not me.
First of all, Blue Birds day camp was the extent of my childhood camping experience. I’ve since camped one overnight with my daughter’s first grade Girl Scout group. I love being in the outdoors, but at the end of the day, I want a warm shower or bath, clean bed sheets, and central air conditioning. That’s how you combat menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia. Throw in a warm meal, a cold glass of wine, and a good book and I may even be able to convince myself that I have somehow expanded my horizons. There’s that personal growth and renewal we’re supposed to be experiencing.
Yet, no matter how you define camping, I bet you would agree that most women (and many men) need more information about menopause. According to the National Women’s Health Network, some 600,000 women undergo a hysterectomy each year in the United States. A significant portion believe this means they will skip the menopause experience. Clearly, handing out brochures in the doctor’s office is not the most efficient or effective way to educate millions of people who are touched by menopause every day.
Don’t worry. There’s hope in the growing recognition that bringing mature women together for a little learning, a little sharing, and no doubt a little socializing is a worthwhile endeavor. Several hospitals across the country and in Canada offer educational sessions, mini seminars if you will, for menopausal women. Across the Pacific however, a group of nurses organized what may be the first “Menopause Growth Camp” to explore the efficacy to women participating in monthly educational sessions. Two academics or other experts led small-group discussions and personal experience sharing sessions on topics ranging from heart health, bone and joint symptoms, to psychological issues and nutrition. The study followed 81 campers for a year and found that participation “significantly improved the women’s health management behavior.” Campers’ responses to follow-up surveys revealed “pronounced improvement” in specific areas of nutrition, psychological well-being, and exercise after six months of participation; this trend continued through the 12th month, when women also reported growth in “health conception and quality of life.”
Alas, my kind of camp! Girl Scout camp did improve my quality of life, and positively influenced my overall health and that of my daughter and thousands of other young girls. Let’s honor those tireless, nameless Scout leaders (who’ve certainly made the transition to menopause) by requesting and supporting Menopause Growth Camps in our communities. I can’t wait to sign up and tell my family that I’m attending Growth Camp for a week.
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