When I worked at summer camp, not revealing how many years ago, we had a swimming pool. Lifeguards did the work they needed to do. Camp Yorktown Bay, where Michael worked this summer, has a nice lake and therefore they had to practice and perfect the Drag Test.
During training week, the staff were required to find the “dummy” drowning camper nicknamed Luke Skywalker within a certain length of time. As with all drownings, every second counts. Assuming the camper was underwater for two minutes prior to the alert being sounded that a child was missing in the lake, the staff now have only 2 minutes left to find the child before permanent brain damage and so forth takes over.
Michael described in detail the work of the staff divided into three groups: divers, swimmers and walkers. Staff were assigned to their appropriate group based on their skill level in the water. Michael, of course, ended up as a walker. His description of the walkers linking arms and going through the shallow part of the lake step by step searching for Luke Skywalker definitely made me feel like I was there experiencing it for myself.
The precision and efficiency the staff is required to achieve before campers actually arrive is impressive. What if we put such practices into our parenting? When was the last time your family did a fire drill – and took it seriously? If you live in Tornado alley, or even if you don’t, do you know what to do? We expect summer camps to protect our children and to hire competent staff before we entrust our precious offspring to their care. Is there a need for a “drag test” in your home?
Missing one of your children is an interesting experience. My husband moped around the house for a few weeks. He missed Michael greatly. I certainly noticed that my right hand in cooking was gone. We all missed Mr. Witty and random fact spiller. But Greta’s reaction was one of the most endearing.
As I tucked her into bed one night and we discussed her missing brother, dutifully working at summer camp, she wondered about the most important part of their relationship as siblings. “Will Michael forget how to tickle me?”
I assured her that Michael wouldn’t lose his ability to tickle her and they would still have a lot of fun when he got back. The simplicity of childhood – and yet the most vulnerable and intimate. Here we were, adults and so mature, thinking about surface level areas of missing our son. Greta went straight for the heart of the matter, to a very personal level, and she wasn’t afraid to do so. She also seemed much more at peace once I had reassured her of her biggest most personal fear about her brother being gone.
Perhaps we, like Greta, should open up about our deepest fears to people we can trust instead of dwelling forever on the surface level ones. The sooner we are assured – the sooner we have peace.
I’ve decided that you don’t have to have one of those “near death experiences” to see your life flash before your eyes. All you have to do is see your oldest child do some of the same things you did.
We are sending Michael to work at a Christian youth camp this summer. We are entrusting the directors of Camp Yorktown Bay in Arkansas to put him to work and keep him safe. I feel for them on one point. They have to feed Michael.
There are a myriad of emotions and thoughts going through my mind as I deal with the reality of my son experiencing similar things that I did. That’s a little scary as I look now at how I should have handled situations I found myself in better than I did, when I worked at camp. The ripping my heart out as he leaves the nest has begun.
I got an email today asking me to review my application process for the special summer camp we have applied for – regarding Greta’s ADEM. It seems 40 families (it is a family camp) have signed up and they only have room for 30 families – unless some smaller families double in up in the units. In the email, they included a video of introduction to the facility – the Center for Courageous Kids.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a mom. Maybe it is just because Greta is still so young and we are still discovering what all lifelong issues ADEM will leave her to deal with. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes dry while watching that video.
There is a saying that unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand. That’s what is so great about community. When we get together – we are stronger. When we get together – we find understanding and share ways to cope. I’m looking forward to attending this camp and meeting other ADEM families and sharing stories and practical day to day tips. Each child experiences ADEM differently, depending on where the lesions were located, how large they were and how many there were, as well as how long it took to get properly diagnosed and treated. So many variables, yet at the same time there are still classic ADEM leftovers that almost every patient, especially the children have to deal with.
What would we do without community? What would we do if we always thought we were the only one in the entire world that suffered the way we suffer? Take the time to be open about yourself and what you are going through – whatever it is. Look for support groups or fundraisers that help create awareness or contribute to vital research. You may have a handle on your situation yourself and think you don’t need community. I’m not going to congratulate you. I’m going to tell you that out there is someone who doesn’t have it figured out and they would be thrilled to talk to someone who has been through it and knows some of the ropes.
We need each other. We need community. Just google center for courageous kids and watch their introduction video. It just might change how you feel about community.
Filed under ADEM, Community
When looking back on my first experience of having to deal with someone’s nocturnal enuresis, I realize I came from the shaming camp. Please cut me some slack. I was a teenage counselor for the first time at a Christian summer camp. I thought the best way to make sure one of my girls (whose bunk just happened to be above mine) didn’t wet her bed again was to make her carry her bedding up to the camp lodge and laundering facility. She cried the entire walk.
Did it work? Well, if you look at it strictly from the clinical view, yes. That girl never wet the bed again the rest of that week. The rest of her life, well who is to say? She probably thinks of me as that evil camp counselor that didn’t know how to show compassion.
Since those days at summer camp, I’ve learned that someone who sees you at your worst and tries to help you overcome it without broadcasting it to the world, is someone you want to win for. Someone shaming you so you will never repeat your crime again will never get your vote for inspirational person that changed my life award. If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken the time to tell all the other girls, hey, Gracie over here is going to help me with a project, you guys go line up at the flag pole without us, we’ll catch up with you later.
I’m glad my children are growing up in a society where coaching is being taught and actively practiced. I hope that the many people they encounter during their lives will take the time to coach them, instead of the easy to get it over with shaming method. By the way, it’s not new. It’s the method Jesus chose. He didn’t shame us, but chose to come down to our level, walked beside us and helped us see a better way. He definitely gets my vote for inspirational person who changed my life!