Since last summer, I have been blessed with the perfect job. It pays well, I get a good tan, I teach kids about the environment, and I get to be outside. I work about 20 minutes from my parents house in Ohio at Recreation Unlimited, a camp for kids and adults with physical and/or mental disabilities. Often those two come together. I am a camp counselor.
The story of how I wound up at RU is rather interesting. First of, I’m a bio major, with hopes of getting into field research. I have no connection or career aspirations in summer camp experiences or special education. I was driving down the highway on time and noticed the green sign marking where to turn for the camp. Curious, I later Googled it and found out the true nature of the camp. As I was looking for a job between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college I decided it would be a good experience to try RU out… and I’ve never regretted it.
My first summer I spent as a counnselor, taking care of campers, seeing them daily struggle with the most basic tasks, and daily overcome huge obstacles like our 50 foot climbing tower, canoes, arts and crafts, and crawdad fishing. These kids and adults are the hapiest people I’ve ever met, and they face so many challenges; and yet we have all our bodily functions, and are always looking for the next thing, always discontent.
Not only have I had the opportunity to work with people with challenges, I can also work with young boys and girls. Just this past week, I was leading some team building activities for a group of typical, local 6th graders. It was absolutely amazing to see the group dynamics each time we started a new session. There were always a couple kids who were really rambunctious and unfocused, but as the activities progressed, there emerged clear leaders, and those who were more task oriented than the others. Often we would present “challenges” to these individuals, taking away talking abilities, or blindfolding them. New leaders would step up; many were not those I would have thought.
One of the most interesting actions this week that I witnessed was during an activity that required campers to cross a “river” using only “logs” (carpet pads). As everyone was crossing, several of the quieter kids found themselves left in the back of the group. One could not talk, the other two could not see. The boy who could not talk was standing at difficult angles in between the two blinded kids, guiding their feet one by one, helping them cross the “river” safely.
It caused me to stop and think. What is it in some kids that perpetuate a care for others who are less fortunate? Why is it that kid decided to help his friends, even though it was difficult and easier for him just to save himself?
What in my life needs to change so that I can be like that young man who cared for his friends enough to overlook his own “disability” and help his classmates.
The job I have has allow me to see people in relatively pure environments; free of outside cares. It is there true character exposes itself. God bless this young man’s life, and may he not live in oblivion of others and thier lives as so many of the human race has done.