Two boys, each missing a lower limb, climb up on the Key Log, take two hops on one leg, then leap into the water together.
One of our five core values at Key Log Rolling is to always “find a way.” When Maureen Johnston, a specialist for the Shriners Children’s Child Life program contacted me about incorporating log rolling into their Therapeutic Recreation day camps for kids with limb deficiencies, I didn’t think twice about finding a way to make it work.
I felt confident we could provide a safe experience for all the children, even though a common first reaction to log rolling is a concern about safety. I was thrilled that Maureen wanted to give it a go. I learned what each child’s situation would be, and confirmed that they could all be in the water. We decided a lakefront beach would be best, so that everyone could participate regardless of swimming ability. There would be a camp for 5- to 8-year-olds, and one for 9- to 13-year-olds.
I had never specifically taught log rolling as an adaptive sport, but because it is an individual sport, I knew we could find unique ways to make it work for each camper. Often kids have as much fun jumping off into the water as they do trying to stay on; and inevitably they make up games like rolling over the log on their bellies or trying to balance while sitting on the log (kids love to call this “butt rolling”).
Having worked with youth organizations before, I knew it was important to find a way for ALL of the kids to participate. Fortunately, the nature of log rolling allows each child to go at their own pace without feeling like they might be letting the rest of the team down, different from many sports.
Shriners Children’s Adaptive Therapy Camp attendee adapts to her limb deficiency by using her arms to help her log roll.
Without a doubt, watching the Shriners kids learn to log roll was one of the most rewarding experiences of my journey with Key Log Rolling. Their initial nervousness and apprehension melted into pure joy when they realized that they could learn just like anyone else. There were a range of limb differences amongst the campers: some with prosthetics, some not; upper body and lower body “deficiencies”; some congenital, some acquired.
Because log rolling is not a mainstream sport, the kids had no expectations about what makes a “good” log roller, or the “right” way to do it. They didn’t have preconceived notions that they wouldn’t be good. It was more about playing and figuring out how to climb up on the log, and spinning and splashing into the water, which was perfect.
Truthfully, there was nothing “adaptive” about the way I taught this group of kids. I taught them to log roll the same way I would teach any other kids their age. In fact, they were an above average group. In hindsight, it makes sense. They’ve spent their young lives figuring out new ways to move and be nimble. What they might have lacked in limb ability, they made up for with a stronger sense of their core, and body awareness.
The biggest takeaway from our experience is that the campers showed us a side of the sport we had never known before. From them, we learned new ways to teach, new ways to play and compete, and unseen benefits of the sport that we love. At Key Log Rolling, we’re incredibly grateful to recreational programmers like Maureen who are ready and willing to try new things, and who work with us to “find a way” to make log rolling accessible to all who want to try.
Shriners Children’s Experience with Key Log Rolling
“Watching the kids try log rolling was so special. From seeing them first jump up on a log and immediately fall off and then witness their improvement on each subsequent attempt was truly awesome,” - Maureen Johnston, Child Life Specialist and Camp Director at Shriners Children’s Twin Cities.
Read more about Shriners Children’s experience with Key Log Rolling at their Therapeutic Recreation Camp.