So I have been spending the last four weeks working at an Easter Seals camp outside of Nashville. For those of you who don’t know what an Easter Seals camp is, allow me to enlighten you. This camp is for adults and children with both cognitive and physical disabilities. Each week is for a different group (i.e., adults with physical, children with cognitive, adults with cognitive, etc).
We spent the first week doing camp maintenance. My job was to clean out the Nasty green pool. Draining the pool was too expensive for camp budget, so I spent a week shocking and scrubbing the algae from the sides…eww. After prepping the camp, the first group of campers came for a fundraising weekend. This weekend was a fishing tournament where local fishermen take the campers out in their really nice boats and fish with them. The camper I was buddied with and I caught the most fish out of all the girls (35 lbs worth). At the award ceremony where all the campers receive awards, my campers were quite excited, so much in fact that one of them ran up to get her award when someone else’s name was called…
The next weekend was TBI weekend (Traumatic Brain Injury). This weekend is very emotionally difficult because all of the campers used to be high functioning individuals. The consequences of the injuries varied. They change from lack of memory and inhibitions (no frontal lobes), to lack of bladder control, and paralysis. I can’t imagine all of a sudden not being able to remember whether I have eaten breakfast or not, or where I was.
Just after the TBI campers left (literally 15 min later), the weeklong session for adults with cognitive disabilities started. This week was so much fun. Since I am a lifeguard, I am also on program staff which means I plan the evening activities. One night was Hollywood Squares. I got to be Nancy Kerrigan, when I walked out, my friend at camp and whacked my knee and I collapsed yelling/ crying “Why would someone do that?!” At night I got to help the counselors put their campers to bed. Despite some of the freak outs and poo-tasterfy stories, this experience has been incredible. This project really pushes people out of their comfort zone (cleaning up fecal matter, changing diapers, showering campers, and helping with other activities of daily living), but it is my favorite project so far. The staff are amazing, and the campers are incredible.
If anyone needs something to do for any number of weeks this summer, I highly suggest working at this camp. They need volunteers, and I promise that this will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
I miss you all and will be home June 28th! Only one month left!