This week I have been so exceedingly lucky. During the last week I was a volunteer “partner” to a child with health problems causing her to be considered ventilator dependent. I was a part of something that has taught me things that I never thought I would learn, or even consider. I was taught things from the other counselors and partners but more than anything I learned from the children. I’m not going to lie, for someone who had never been to a summer camp, this week was FULL of difficulties. There were highs and lows, but this experience was so incredible, that I will be back, for many years to come. I’m sure of it!
The first thing I noticed when arriving to camp was the facilities…. were… older than me. Camping definitely came to mind, just as one would imagine camping. I don’t believe in complaining about this because it was a roof over my head, however; at the end of the week a bathroom with a locking door and a shower I know was cleaned in the last decade was a welcome change of pace! I had never slept in a co-ed cabin, on cots, with a public restroom. But by the end of the week I got used to people snoring, coming in at all hours of the night and even passing gas. It all just became natural. With all of us going through the camp experience together, we knew it was for the kids and none of us minded once we saw what was really important.
The kids came a few days later, after the counselors got settled in and decorated in preparation for the real guests. A fly on the wall, would’ve thought it was Christmas morning. All of the counselors sat in the parking lot waiting for their campers (which they knew by name) all afternoon. Throughout the week of arts and crafts, bonfires and delicious meals we did a lot of extraordinary things. Although the kids did all the basic summer camp activities there were a lot of things that were done in a different way that made it seem so much more amazing.
The kids had an opportunity to ride horses, hang out in a tree house specifically made for Trail’s Edge Campers and have a water balloon fight! These kids were unstoppable! There was so much fun happening that the week flew by! There were moments when I would fall into a moment of feeling bad for the kids. I wondered why they were laced with such difficulties at such a young age and why them, not me? But after a couple days of spending time with them, I realized, they’re not sad. I can’t be sad to them because it’s an insult to these happy and vibrant kids. Most of them were born with these health problems so they don’t know life without them. Through the week I learned that none of these kids use the word “can’t”. There isn’t anything they can’t do, they just do things a little differently.
Because of this week, I feel empowered, strong, fortunate and lucky. I am so lucky to have a place in these kids’ lives. Whether I make 5 new friends with counselors or kids it’s a family. A family that makes this world a better place. People who have different backgrounds, histories, professions all come together for the sake of nothing but these kids. And I am one of the lucky few who can say that I was able to be a part of that. There is no way to really, accurately convey the experiences that I’ve had and feelings I’ve felt in a blog entry. All I can say, is if you feel any inclining to join in and break out of your comfort zone for a cause like this….. DO IT. Do it and don’t look back, because you wont be sorry. I know I’m not.