As promised, I'm writing again...this time about my final week in Little Rock. But before I begin, I want to apologize for the numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes in my last entry. I composed much of that entry in the hustle and bustle of hanging out with camp friends on my last night in Arkansas. I also want to apologize to Miss Lendy Grayce Yeaman Johnson; the reason you've waited so long for the letter I started writing weeks ago, is because I'm using an excerpt of your letter to describe part of my last week. Please forgive me? With that being said, sit back and enjoy one of the last entries in your summer reading program. (Ha.)
As written on July 25th:
Today we began Kota II, the second session for kids of all abilities and diagnoses. Everyone is short-staffed because some counselors have quit and for varying reasons, not enough replacements were found. In any case, I have 8 campers: 4 typical kids, 2 with some kind of Autism, 1 with Cerebral Palsy (CP), and 1 with some degree of Mental Retardation (MR). One of the girls with Autism has had some major suicidal/mental health issues for the last year, and two other campers feed off of each other's negative behaviors, so this will make for some interesting cabin dynamics. Other cabins are just as crazy with the mix of typical kids and those with CP or Down Syndrome. "Kota crazy," as they say.
It's actually pretty funny to observe activities because none of the counselors ever get to sit (kids run--fast!) and if they do, feet are strategically placed behind chair legs to prevent quick get-aways. Plus, there is an average of 1-2 kids running from an activity at any given time, so it's just really hilarious to watch it all play out. In fact, one fellow counselor made a comment about how interesting it would be to sit as a "fly on the wall" during Kota weeks, because everyone's physically there together, but no one's actually doing the same thing at once. I guess it's just one of those unique things about camp that one can only understand through experience.
Flashing forward, I'm going to continue describing Kota II by listing a few comical camper stories from the week. Since I spent most of my time at archery, two of my stories come from there. The first story took place Monday morning with one of our first groups out at archery for the week. An 8-year-old little boy who has a cochlear implant (not sure of his full diagnosis) and has been coming to camp for three years, decided to pee outside. Now, when I say he peed outside, I don't mean that he hid behind the archery pavillion or in a bush, and did his business. No, when I say he peed at archery, I mean, he peed at archery. This kid walked over to the edge of the cement, right next to the bow stations, pulled down his pants, and well...you know the rest. Everyone was right in the middle of "going get arrows," so Melissa and I were supervising this process, whenever I noticed one of the campers making a surprised face as he looked toward the seating area. I thought he was surprised at something else, but a few seconds later, I turned around and made the connection between the campers' surprise and my own sudden surprised as I noticed what was happening. By that point, there wasn't much we could do besides let the camper finish what he'd started and provide some distraction for the rest of the group--quickly redirecting from the behavior back to the appropriate tasks at hand.
Some of these kids are so intelligent; often times I wish "typical" people (including myself) gave them the credit they deserve. A day or two after our first "situation" at archery, one of the older campers made a really funny comment that I will never forget. This particular camper is one of those "old pros" we tend to get every now and again. He's super passionate about camp, and Aldersgate means the world to him. In fact, this camper was voted by the counselors to receive our camper of the week award this year. The best thing about this camper is his wise-cracking, though smart-aleck, hilarious remarks. A proud Quapaw, the camper cheered on his cabinmates as they shot for tribe points. In the spirit of friendly competition, the camper (who is uses an electric wheelchair because his CP makes muscle control difficult) yelled out, "You better hit the target, or I'm gonna roll over you!" Surprised by the threat, I turned around and gave some "Did you really just say that?" eyes, to which he responded, "Relax--it's all psychological!" After he said that, I had to turn away so he wouldn't see me laughing my guts off. These kids are great!! I can't say that enough, lol.
And the final story I'll share took place on Tuesday night during my 5-hour break. Myself, Kyle, Blain, and a few other people were all on the same break that week. Per usual, Blain and I spent most of the night watching LOST. (Hey, we were trying to make it through the end of Season 2 before I left!) During our last episode of the night, Kyle came in and interrupted us to read aloud a text that he'd received from a counselor in his cabin. It said: "Shower party, lost a tooth, swallowed toothpaste, tooth connected to braces, call dad in morning, ran around naked, mopped floor, was uncomfortable with, showering campers, peed while dressing him...all things from the past hour you missed." ...lol. I'm not sure there's much I can say about this one. I will say that a set of boy counselors in another cabin had to fill out an incident report regarding the consumption of sunscreen the day before. Use your imagination to fill in the rest.
I could sit here all day and try to describe Kota Camp, but there really is no way to do it justice...
A little about my final 48 hours in Arkansas... Between Friday and Saturday afternoon, Blain and I finished the last 5 hours worth of LOST, Season 2! I felt so accomplished, haha. On Friday night, a bunch of us (probably close to 20) celebrated Kelsey's, a new counselor's, birthday. It was a late night, but some good times with the gang. Per my request, we had a late lunch at the Purple Cow, one of my most favorite restaurants in Little Rock (clearly, for the atmosphere) on Saturday. Following a lazy Saturday, seven of us (Kyle, Blain, Me, Sydney, Morgan, Ashleigh, and Kevin) cooked a tastyyy meal of Cajun stuffed chicken, baked maccaroni, Caesar salad, and garlic bread. As usual, it was a lovely group/family effort. We ended the night with a viewing of Shutter Island. The next morning, I left just as everyone began showering, packing, and getting ready for their second to last week of camp (Oncology, then Asthma).
Goodbyes were easier than I expected this year, especially since I would be driving southbound alone for the first time since starting at Aldersgate in 2008. Without Allie, my Summer Sister, I was sure the drive would be even more lonely, sad, and depressing. However, I kept myself occupied by rotating through several cds, and my daddy met me in Alexandria, about 5 hours into the trip for the remaining drive home, so it wasn't too bad.
I've been home for 8 days now. My major professor at NC State said for me to go ahead and enjoy my final days of summer, so I've been doing just that. At some point, I'll write about my August in Louisiana, but for now I'm going to wait on that. First, I want to take some time to do a little more reflecting over the summer and my time at camp. Until then, though, I have a bit of a flash back for you. I want to encourage you to visit this link to an entry describing my first arrival at Aldersgate, two summers ago, in 2008. I thought some of you new readers might find it interesting to see pictures of the camp facilities--maybe matching a setting to all of these stories you've been reading over the last few months. If you're really bored, you may find subsequent camp entries from that summer to be of interest, as well.
And with that, I'm done.