All I have to say is thank goodness for 5-hour breaks! Tonight has been sooo wonderful; I had a sandwich for dinner at Kyle’s apt, bought my airline ticket (for break in July) at the public library, had ice cream from Maggie Moo’s, talked to various family members and friends, and even got to watch a few episodes of Jon and Kate Plus 8. I love love loveeeeeeeee 5-hours! (It’s only too bad that this week’s long break is on Monday night, but oh well.)
As promised, I want to attempt an entry about my first two and a half (three by the time this is done?) weeks here in Little Rock. Oh, before I get started, I must give a shout-out to My Favorite Arkansan Red Head, Miss Claire Antoon and her crazy antics with my beloved meugle (stuffed cow—as named by Vicki Sanders, l’ete 2004). There, Clair, are you happy??? Sorry it’s not the quality story you hoped for, but at least it’s there, lol.
Alrighty, here goes. Just like last year, I am spending the summer working at a camp for children with special needs in Little Rock, Arkansas. The camp serves children ages 6-18 with various disabilities, including: Muscular Dystrophy, Autism, Asperger’s, Cerebral Palsy, assorted behavior disorders, Spina Bifida, cardiac conditions, arthritis, kidney disease, asthma, and cancer, as well as “typical” kids. Last summer, Allie and I (affectionately known as The Cajun Girls) worked for the first three weeks of camp, and this year we managed to grasp a few more (or different ones, in Allie’s case).
As much as I never dreamed it would happen, Camp Aldersgate has truly become “my home away from home.” Allie (my Summer Sister!) and I were so very excited to drive up to camp on June 6th. We arrived a day early since it takes us so long (8 hours) to drive up to Little Rock, so we made arrangements ahead of time to stay at camp that night. However, we later heard that one of our good friends had recently secured an apartment in Little Rock and we were invited to a get-together at his house that evening. Upon arrival in LR, we hurried to find a church (with help from KF), went to 5 pm mass, and then headed over to Kyle’s apartment for a bit. We didn’t stay out too late because we wanted to get back to camp before the gates closed at 10 pm.
The week of staff training was super fun, as expected. It’s always fun to hang out with old friends and meet new ones. Plus, spending a week at camp without real responsibilities was pretty nice. It’s like camp for us, the big kids, lol. It was also very exciting to find out that we’d be working with some people who we’d made friends with last year but were scheduled to work different camp weeks than we were. On the other hand, we were bummed to find out that some of our best friends would not be working very many weeks this time around. Boo. We decided we’d have to cherish the few good times with everyone while we have them.
For our first full weekend in Little Rock, we stayed at camp with Clair, since she’s staying in LR for the month of June and didn’t have anyplace else to stay. We didn’t want to leave her alone at camp because that is just plain creepy. (Believe me, you do NOT want to stay at camp alone…eeek.) Since we were staying at camp already, we offered to help with the volunteer training that Saturday. A few other people came to help out too, and it was kinda cool to be there as resources during the beginning and end of the day. I think/hope the volunteers appreciated getting the chance to meet a few faces that would later be familiar ones when they came to work. Aside from training, we also hung out at Kyle’s once again. (This will soon become a regular occurrence, you just wait.)
Week One: Muscular Dystrophy
Each week at camp, kids come with a variety of disabilities or medical conditions. For the first week in 2009, most of the campers had Muscular Dystrophy. I worked with a great group of counselors, and really enjoyed getting to know some people who were new to camp or that I didn’t get a chance to know last year. We had the oldest girls—five girls ranging in age from 12 to 17. There were four counselors and four volunteers in our cabin, which may seem like a lot of staff, but it’s definitely necessary. All of the counselors are assigned to work at specific activities, and we each have 2 – or 4-hour breaks each day, so it’s very important to have extra hands available. In fact, I worked at the archery range this week, and found out that I will be working there for most (if not all?) of the summer. It’s super exciting because that was my first choice assignment and I didn’t expect to actually get it. Oh, Allie and I had the same breaks for the first time ever, so that was pretty sweet too.
At the end of camp on Friday, K. Bost and I brought Allie to the airport for her 4 p.m. flight. She decided to leave two weeks earlier than I so that she could work at heart camp in Louisiana. Unfortunately, she’s going to miss Kota I and Diabetes weeks here at Aldersgate. It’s also going to be the first time that she or I have ever worked at either camp without the other person. It’s quite odd, to be honest. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a good job of keeping each other abreast of events at either camp. It’s going to be difficult to be apart but we’ll do our best to channel each others’ Summer Sister vibes across the miles. Heh.
As for Week Two at camp, we’re past the half-way mark, but I’m going to wait for another blog to write about that. Instead, I feel the need to speak about a few random things that I keep forgetting to mention. First, I never mentioned that I have, in fact, chosen a school for the fall. I’m not going to discuss it in this blog, but if I forget to write more in the coming weeks, someone should remind me so I can blog about it as promised. Second, the heat here has been sooooooooo unbearable since the very beginning of camp. Temperatures are in the upper 90s with heat indices in the upper 100s. It’s absolutely ridiculous and I am literally scared to see what July and August has in store for us. Also, my thoughts go out to everyone who was involved with the recent shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and victims of the DC metro crash. I will always have a piece of my heart in DC, and still have many friends who live in the area. Thankfully, everyone is okay, as far as I know, anyway.
I’ve got to quit writing for now, though. My 2 hour “paperwork” (break) will be coming to an end soon so I’ve got to get on the road and head back to camp. (I’m writing from Kyle’s apt.) Now that I’ve found access to the internet (when I’m not completely exhausted), look forward to more frequent updates. …Or so I hope.