Part of me has always wanted to be a camp counsellor. Two summers ago, I spent a week at camp as a one-to-one support provider. And there’s a part of me that, yes, was right before going into that: there is a lot of emotional stamina needed to invest in the kids you are leading 24-hours-a-day, and sometimes, it is hard to have that stamina all day. To be able to pour into campers in a meaningful, patient, intentional way all.day.long.

When I saw a posting for a “camp coach” position at a sports day camp for ten-to-fourteen-year-olds with autism, I didn’t hesitate much to apply. I quickly heard back, chatted with the camp director on the phone, we met to talk (remember, my interviews never really end up being interviews properly) at a Tim Horton’s, and here we are a few weeks later, the night before the last day of camp.

Day camp is way more my thing, probably, than overnight camp. I shadow-ish a camper all day, I rotate campers every day, and we have fun. Mostly. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had successes, sometimes I feel like I do not know nearly enough to do this job. I’m learning. I alternate between “it’s only a week” and “I can’t believe there’s only one day left, it’s gone so fast”. The week was packed. I think today might have been the least packed day and really not even because we went to the trampoline park this morning.

I played dodgeball on a trampoline today. I bowled with the other coaches and totally lost with a 91. With bumpers. My camper from day 1 ended up being my camper for half of day 2, and proceeded to call me a monster both days, except he also hugged me because he was so excited about how awesome the bowling alley was. My camper today resisted a lot and then suddenly became a whirlwind of engagement towards the end of the day. I’ve argued. I don’t really argue in a way that is convincing, probably. Come into the gym for two minutes and see what’s going on, just two minutes. You have another minute left to play Lego. I played laser tag for the first time (I was 28 out of 29. I’m a professional). I’ve high fived campers for giving compliments to one another unassisted. One of my Special Olympics athletes is a camper this week, and I’ve had the joy of seeing him smile as he calls “Hi Kerri!” to me whenever I walk by. I played beanbag toss with my camper today for a long time after he tried so hard to get another camper to play with him, they just weren’t interested (it’s really challenging when all the kids have all these goals they want to/should complete and yet are supposed to engage with other campers to check the stuff off their lists. I’ve watched campers practice asking one another to play, practice complimenting each other, help prepare lunch, and test themselves. I’ve watched them be happy and sad and angry and jealous. Food has been thrown and hits have been thrown—and not just in Tae Kwon Do yesterday—and toys have been thrown and things that are meant to be thrown have been thrown. My camper on Monday was surprisingly fond of Shapes (the fitness centre). Camp songs have been sung. Hello, my name is Joe, and I work in a button factory. I’ve got a wife, two kids and a dog, woof. One day my boss says “Joe, are you busy man,” I say “No, man,” He said “Push this button with your right hand. Non camp songs have been sung. Call Me Maybe?! My team got second place in a cup stacking/design tournament and we talked about good sportsmanship again. I’ve felt connected and disconnected and frustrated and elated.

And I still don’t know if it’s for me, but you know what? I’ll never know if I don’t try and I’ll never learn how to be better if I don’t try either. So, one more day, I’ll keep trying. It could be the least or most challenging day yet. And I won’t find out until I jump in there one more time, and give’r. Because hopefully this week teaches the campers a handful of the things it’s teaching me.

At least tomorrow my camper is not taller than me. Unless he grows a foot overnight, anyways—and I might not even allow myself to be surprised by that. Guess it’s called Adventure Camp for a reason. Oh, and if there’s a place to forget to take my Concerta, I guess a camp is a pretty good place—even better when your brain can switch gears as quickly as the campers’.

A camper also told me the pink space car I made out of Lego looked like it was out of Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie.

http://i1.wp.com/farm4.staticflickr.com/3690/20132442396_c4e0f7569c.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

I’m not sure I see it anywhere:

But hey, it seems fitting. Pink fun and all.

Also I found this kind of disturbing .gif. While I’ll leave you with. Because WTF.

dinosaur and ronald mcdonald beat up batman, lego version. underneath caption reads

A season.

Lower portion of tree with lake behind it

Another, to be well. To become well. To realize anew that this is not a passive act–I can exist, or I can live well and be fulfilled. And these fulfilled seasons are the ones I remember. The ones where I know myself and where I am headed and maybe even feel connected to the One who is coauthoring this story with me–the same God that Jenny Simmons refers to, in her book The Road to Becoming, as the Storyteller.  I am here to live a story, not a passivity.

I wasn’t looking
I wasn’t ready
kicking and screaming
tired of believing by myself
I never would have done it on my own.
oh but You,
You were never gonna let me go
You took me

straight to the Healer
You were my believer
when I couldn’t even see it for myself
and now I’m whole, I can feel it
now I can see it when I couldn’t even say it for myself
You said “it’s time to be well”

no man’s an island
we need each other
no use in hiding
no pain in lying to myself
cause I don’t have to do this on my own
with You, I don’t have to walk this road alone

You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
just to make me well, just to make me well
You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
…and He made me well, and He made me well.

–time to be well, jenny simmons 

Yes, I’ve lost time by circumstances out of my control. Yes, I’ve (even worse) neglected time. But these are chapters in my story, too. Just, the next one(s), I’d like to write more intentionally; explore plot lines deeper, know characters more thoroughly–connect with myself, my circumstances, and the people around me, playing important parts in this story as well as their own stories. In this next chapter I want to embrace the chaos through interacting with it. To work on embracing the moments as they come and appreciating the little things. To be grateful. To own my mistakes and say sorry. To practice more self-care and define what that looks like for me, and begin yet again to work at feeling things and feeling better in all ways: I know from experience I am happiest and feel best when I connect with myself in ways that don’t let my mind and body and spirit exist separately, but together. Things like exercise and meditation and how physical activity especially helps to make my ADHD a strength rather than another source of struggle, how both of the above allow me to use my brain and body in tandem rather than simply as vehicles for one another. And, as for the Storyteller, yes, it’s challenging myself to dig in to this act of spirituality as well. After years of struggle with this, I had a realization today, after I’d been toying with a little more interest in the Bible the last few days. I’ve always been candid that I do not believe in infallibility of the bible, yet attending church in previous seasons caused me to be frustrated by this fact–because I was supposed to believe everything in there and I didn’t. Today, I realized while reading The Road to Becoming: “What if I stop looking at the bible as a thing I have to believe every word of, and instead as another thing to explore?”

shoreline of rocks with lake behind, and row of forest/trees in distance with cloudy evening sky above. I am opening my eyes to exploring.  Really, everything above: from exercise and nutrition and writing and meditation and creating things and being connected–owning my life, in other words–is all about exploring. Discovering where the map for this season, this chapter leads me. Where I am going and how I am going to interact with what surrounds me. It is all about choice.

So why am I not choosing these things? Because it’s work. It means changing myself within my circumstance in tandem with accepting where I’m at. Yet, I know this is important, and that I should make these smallish huge acts of self-care a priority. I can create excuses but I can also create change. And I know my body, and my spiritual and mental wellbeing will thank me for one far more than the other.

I need, though, to stop trying to do this on my own. Because my excuses to remain stuck sound a lot less dumb in my head and I should be forced to admit them more often.

You took me / straight to the Healer / You were my believer / when I couldn’t even see it for myself / and now I’m whole, I can feel it / now I can see it / when I couldn’t even say it for myself / You said “it’s time to be well”

The people I’ve coached to make positive life changes… I have always told them to do it with someone. I have frequently volunteered to be that person. Time to take my own advice ;). Sometimes, an app is not enough–positive peer pressure can be.

the young want to change the world
the wise want to change themselves
the young want to change the world
but i just want to change myself.

spent, let it happen (spotify link)

For now, this season, I need to change myself.
Again. Continually.

Cabin to left side, flowers focused in foreground with lake and trees behind in distance, unfocused.
it is time to be well.
it is time to grow.