Life Tools Camp: Taking Steps Toward Independence

It was an awesome week at Center for Independent Futures’ Life Tools Camp at the Evanston Township High School Transition House. Camp was full of new experiences – at the Transition House and in the community.Camp began with budgeting for the week: meals, groceries and public transportation. With this task accomplished, the group headed into downtown Evanston on the bus with plans for lunch at a restaurant and a day of exploring. It was a beautiful day, so lots of people were out enjoying the warm sunshine and beautiful fountains. A street map of Evanston helped locate the frozen yogurt shop where all enjoyed a tasty treat before heading back to the house.

Every day was just as busy: preparing lunch, doing laundry, completing a community service project for the City of Evanston, riding the bus, dining out, exploring the Evanston Public Library, playing mini golf, and a visit to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. Learning to use the Ventra machine at the busy Davis Street Transportation Center was a useful activity, and comparing the cost to eat out or cook in was surprising. Cooking in cost $5 per person, but eating out was around $8…it was easy to see that preparing meals is most cost effective and it’s also really fun to cook with friends!

Through conversation, campers realized that asking questions is a good way to learn about the community and to make friends. Knowing how to be a self-advocate, asking for help when needed, recognizing resources and knowing how to access them are all important step towards independence.

The best part about camp was making new friends. The group got to know each other through a series of games and working together, and they discovered many common interests – math, movies, history, video games, music, pets and Apples to Apples! With all the laughter and conversation, it was clear by the end of the week that each person had expanded their network of relationships.

In five busy days, so much was learned about conversation, advocating, and accessing community resources. This year’s Life Tools Camp was a successful week of gaining new skills and knowledge, along with having a great time!

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