So the youth and oncology sessions week is over! I didn't work with the oncology camp much, but the youth camp was by far my favorite camp yet. The kids were 7-12 years old and all with physical disabilities. I don't know much about the boys cabin but I spent a LOT of time with the girls' cabin in which I worked. I'd say most of the girls had some form of cerebral palsy in a few cases combined with soemthing else. There were also some kids with extreme skeletal disfigurement, spina bifida, or extreme scoliosis.
So how did this week inspire me? Well the camp out was a fun experience because it was the first time I actually heard the girls talking about what I have always believed is the most special thing about Camp Courage. After bed time the girls were in their tent (and its funny how young girls think you can't hear through tent walls) and the topic of discussion was their favorite thing about Camp Courage. The girls shared with eachother their experiences at school being made fun of and left out because of their disabilities. One girl who over the week I became particularly attached to over the session (the one with the encyclopedia) said, "when I'm at school people make fun of me. When I'm at camp everyone is just like me. I belong here."
I was also pretty proud of myself at bedtime one night. One little girl, Julia, apparently became very attached to me very quickly because on just the second night one of my coworkers in the cabin who was working in Julia's room came to me in the room in which I was working and said, "Julia won't get out from underneath her bed. She likes you, so you should go get her out." Whaaaattt?! Someone prefers me?! Sweet!! So I went to Julia's room. She sat laid under her bed where she had been stubbornly yelling at other staff, refusing to come out from beneath her bed. I came to her and laid down on the floor next to her bed. "What's going on, Julia?" I asked, "why don't you come out here and talk to me?" She started bawling and crawled out from under her bed saying that she missed her mom and she wanted to go home. I convinced her to lay down in bed and I sat with her and comforted her. It took about 10 minutes of talking to her and rubbing her back, but I finally convinced her to go to bed and maybe we could call Mom in the morning. It was great to feel important. :)
I feel like I'm finally getting really comfortable in my job and I'm finally starting to rock at it. Too bad I only have two short sessions before its all over. At the end of this last session I said goodbye to about half the staff who would not be there for the next two sessions which are shorter and with fewer campers. I feel like most of the people who I have become closest friends with are done now and that kind of sucks. For the first session next week I will be a cabin staff as well as program staff so that will be interesting!
I'm starting to wonder what I'm going to do with my blog after I'm done at camp. I mean, camp gives me plenty to write about because its an experience that few people get to have, but I feel like college is routine and boring and the only note worthy thing I might do is a particularly fun saturday night or something. Even so, we have two more sessions, so keep checking back until then. I'll try to keep writing after camp, but no promises until next summer when I am hoping to take a 3 week course in Germany. Who knows?!