Saturday, June 1, 2013

A NOT SO HAPPY CAMPER

With Memorial Day being the unofficial beginning of summer, many children will be heading off to camp.  From the ages of eight to approximately eighteen, I was no different.  I attended Camp Daniel Boone.  It was located near St. Charles, Missouri.

I went to camp with two of my friends.  I remember getting on the bus and not wanting to go.  You see, I never liked to be away from home.  Mom always thought that if I went with friends, I would have a good time.  And, she was right.  The problem was the camp director thought it would be a good idea for me to make new friends.  More often than not, I was put in a cabin with people I didn't know.  I only got to see my friends at meal time and sometimes during the evening programs. I was very unhappy and homesick.  The camp director would end up calling my parents to pick me up.  One time, insisting that my father come pick me up at night.  He didn't.

The years when I was placed in a cabin with my friends, I had a great time.  I just needed to be around people I knew.  I was (and still am) shy.  Shouldn't the camp director's focus been on making my experience at camp a happy one?  I could have made new friends while being with people I knew. 

My camp experience wasn't all bad.  I enjoyed swimming.  Even though I couldn't swim on my own, it was at camp that I used water wings instead of a plastic ring to swim.  What a feeling of freedom they gave me! I enjoyed making crafts too.  It didn't matter that I wasn't very good; I still enjoyed trying to make whatever the craft was.

When you're a child, adults always think they know what's best for you.  When you are a child with a disability, adults really think they know what's best for you. You can't force a child to make friends.  Maybe some children can adapt to being with people they’ve never met, I couldn't.  I wish the director of the camp had just allowed me to be with my friends every year.  I wish he would have been more I concerned about whether I was having fun, rather than being concerned about my making new friends. If fun had been his priority, I would have stayed the entire session every year. I would have been a much happier camper.