Here I am, trying to get in another entry before we cross over the threshold into August and what will soon become the start of another school year. Since today is the last day of July, I'd say I cut it pretty close, but at least I made it. These last few weeks have been fairly sleepless, whether it be late nights on the float trip, 2 a.m. blood sugar checks, or 1 and 4 a.m. ostomy bag emptying experiences. Needless to say, the title of this entry sums up the month of July for myself and several fellow counselors. There's so much to say in recap of the last month, but I'll try my best to get it all in.
Beginning where I left off, a bunch of us counselors went camping in Missouri for two days during our break. We drove 3 hours to Donihpan, Missouri where 19 of us camped at the Rocky River Resort right on the Current River. We stayed in 7 tents on 3 camp sites, and floated the river on 4 rafts (2 tied together). It was my first time to Missorui, so I was thrilled about the opportunity to cross my 24th state off the list. Woot. Our group was diverse as far as old and new counselors were concerned. Everyone seemed to have fun, and there were no real mishaps other than two girls who got sick on the trip. However, traveling with 20 of your closest friends who happen to be medical camp counselors ensures that you are in good hands, lol.
I helped with "Vent Camp" on July 10th. About 10 of us (counselors and supervisors) from camp worked at this small one-day event, serving children and families who are ventilator-dependent. Friday evening, we headed out to camp for a short meeting and yummy pizza, planning for the following day's events. Eleven children were signed up to attend the event, yet only 5 showed up on Saturday. By the end of the day, we had only about 3 kids who were interested/able to participate in camp activities, so the staff had a pretty relaxing time and providing the camp experience. Despite the small turnout, the kids who came were great. They had great personalities and seemed to really enjoy their day at camp.
The next day, we kicked off the second part of the summer with Diabetes Camp. I was Senior Counselor tht week, which was fun and scary all at once, since I'd never worked Diabetes Week before. It all worked out great; the other experienced counselor really taught me a lot, and we all learned pretty fast. 2 a.m. blood sugar checks were finally checked off of my camp bucket list, and they lived up to much of what I'd heard them to be. I now feel like a pro at managing (Type I) diabetes now! Our girl were wonderful, we had an amazing time, and Diabetes Week is now officially one of my favorite camp weeks!
Oh, there were several other cool aspects of Diabetes Week. 1) We had several media and guest appearances throughout the wee, including George Canyon, a Canadian Country music sensation, as well as Amy, the American Diabetes Advocate. 2) Myself and a few other counselors had the opportunity to wear an insulin pump filled with saline for a day. It was really interesting to experience the life of a diabetic who uses an insulin pump. I really appreciated that opportunity and feel like it may come in handy in my future work, perhaps as a Child Life Specialist.
Two weeks ago, we hosted CAK Week (Cardiac, Arthritis, Kidney). Because of my roots at Heart Camp, this week will always have a special place in my own heart. It's also pretty interesting because we had some pretty fragile kids--transplants, dialysis, etc. Or, in my one camper's case--dialysis, g-tube, diabetes (insulin pump), and ostomy bag. Plus, many kids with Down Syndrome have heart conditions, so we had a few of those, and there are always the random ADD, etc. kids who pop up every week. CAK week is the one week where we dispense more meds than any other week, maybe even all the weeks combined! Honestly though, I love the medical kids, so despite the non-existent sleep (rotating between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. shifts), I was quite a happy duck.
A special story about CAK Week: My most fragile camper (the one with all of those diagnoses/needs that I mentioned) had a very unique way of showing her appreciation for people, especially the counselors and volunteers. She would rub our ear lobes and smile, saying "You're in the club, I love you." The first time it happened, we were confused and asked what the ear rub meant. Then she explained, and our hearts melted. It was such a special week, especially to feel that love expressed so freely by such a gracious and wonderful child. It's amazing how children cope with their challenges in life and the little ways they learn to express their appreciation for your time with them. I will remember this little girl and "the club" for always.
This past week was the second Kota session for the summer, which happened to be my last week at camp. We finished it yesterday, and I have been hanging out, enjoying my final moments with everyone before I leave for Louisiana in the morning. I'll take some time next week to write about my final days in Little Rock, but for now I'm going to stop here and get back to hanging out with friends. We're cooking at the apartment again tonight and I just really want to cherish these last moments. So, for now...