A fascinating dance that takes place the first days of an Adam’s Camp week is the feeling out between the counselors, therapists, volunteers and the campers.
Some campers, especially ones coming for the first time and even some who are not Adam’s Camp always have a slightly uncomfortable period of growing used to the surroundings and all the new people and testing limits. For some campers this manifests itself in behavior or defiance, in others withdrawal and shyness. Fortunately, this is one of the areas where out staff leadership is prepared and it is testament to their compassion and skill this period of building trust and is usually pretty short.
The most dramatic turnaround I have witnessed was with a camper who was painfully homesick, which was understandable because as a young teen this was his first time away from home. He was morose and emotional from the moment he checked in through most of the first day of camp. His emotions led to some aggressive outbursts and the counselors were adept in handling these situations to not only keep everybody safe, but to keep the tension for other campers from rising. The two counselors leading his team were determined to turn his attitude around and continued to shower him with both tough love and kindness. Finally, just before our talent show, one of our counselors, a U.S. Army veteran, took him aside and had a man-to-man conversation with him and they came to an understanding. Somehow a light went off and the young man then decided to go onstage and sing. He earned a rousing ovation and since then has been a positive member of the team.
Yesterday was the first time three of our therapy teams ventured to the fabulous Fraser Rec Center for an afternoon of swimming. Major love to Scott, Robin and the kind folks there who always go out of their way to accommodate our groups. Several of our campers are not mobile and even though they are used to being carried and handled constantly, having people they do not know lift, hold, sit and secure can be disconcerting. One of our younger campers, beautiful Gracie, is nonverbal but speaks eloquently with her eyes, and cannot walk on her own. While waiting in the rec center lobby yesterday, Gracie was sitting patiently in her therapist Lauren’s lap and at one point, Gracie leaned back, began stroking Lauren’s hand and looked up at Lauren saying clearly with her eyes, “You got this. I trust you.”
Mitt Romney built a strong corporate reputation as a turnaround artist in his career, highlighted with his handling of the Salt Lake City Olympics. The turnarounds our staff performs here may not have the same impact on a balance sheet as Romney’s, but I would confidently say they change the world for the better just as much if not more so.
(Adam’s Camp Executive Director Jay Clark is blogging regularly from Adam’s Camp 2016 at Snow Mountain Ranch, usually late at night, so please pardon any typos)