South Charlotte

Camp for the senior set

Michelle Hitselberger, executive director of Shepherd's Center South, believes retirees and empty-nesters should be "connected socially, learning new hobbies or engaging the brain and body."

To this end, Hitselberger has designed a summer camp for retirees and empty-nesters "to engage in social, recreational and educational events so they can enjoy life with others just like them - with the same interests," she said.

Hitselberger said she also sees this as an opportunity for them to try things on their "bucket list" and just have some fun.

The summer camp is sponsored by Shepherd's Center South and Leisure University, which are nonprofit organizations designed to provide fun and educational opportunities for older adults. The summer camp meets Thursdays beginning July 7 and running through July 28. Participants don't have to attend every week but may register and attend as they can.

Thanks to a team of volunteer camp leaders and the partnership of St. Matthew Catholic Church, participants will have the opportunity to learn about everything from golf to crafts, as well as more pragmatic topics such as Medicare and managing finances.

Although the camp will occur at St. Matthew Catholic, it is open to all age 50 and older in the Charlotte community, regardless of religious affiliation. Kent Gardner, a retired professor of history and a teacher at the camp, emphasized it was Catholic with "a small c," as in "the universal church," and open to all.

Hitselberger said she is especially excited to offer a "Go Green" seminar that will explain what being "green" is all about.

Michael Nettles, a certified Building Performance Institute energy auditor, will discuss how people can begin to conserve energy today; he will introduce participants to green concepts and alternatives.

For those with a sweet tooth, chef Sadruddin Abdullah will share innovative desert concepts. He'll introduce wine and chocolate pairings, where participants will make chocolates to match wine flavors. They'll also learn how to make truffles.

"It will give you the fundamentals, where if you want to play with chocolate and really make some nice chocolates, you'll be able to do that," said Abdullah.

Judi Mohr, a certified financial planner, will lead a workshop on "Women, Wealth, and Wisdom." Mohr said she finds that "frequently, women in this age group feel very vulnerable" when it comes to financial matters.

Mohr said she hopes to educate these women and empower them to make decisions comfortable for them.

"I want them to feel like they are stronger and smarter as a result of having had some level of conversation on this topic," said Mohr.

For those interested in working with their hands, there will be opportunities for woodworking and crafts. If you wanted to pursue golf and haven't gotten around to it, there will be golf lessons to learn the basics and start working on your short game.

Hitselberger has seen past participants make lasting friendships as a result of attending these types of seminars, and said it's the reason she does this type of work.

"People who are disconnected can have a chance to get together ... and connect with others that have similar interests ... and life situations," said Hitselberger.

And they can have fun doing it, she said.