It’s always at camp

Paper1Every year at camp, something happens to me.

One year it was overhearing a camper’s heartbreaking wish.

This year, it happened in a bathroom.

At first, I thought maybe my “moment” was hearing my daughter singing her heart out in the bathroom stall. Which, was indeed quite adorable. I want her to be uninhibited in her worship–even if that means belting it out in a bathroom.

But that wasn’t my moment.

As we were scuttling back to the auditorium, a leader rushed up to me and fumbled, “excuse me, could you please come help a little girl in the bathroom?

“Where is she?”, I asked.

We walked as fast as we could…he threw out, “it’s not one of my campers…my campers said there was another little girl in there just…really upset.”

My mind went to the worst place.

As I rounded the corner and reached the bathroom door, a girl emerged. She was almost as tall as me and…well…stocky. It looked like she had tried to part or style her hair, but it just came off like a bad cut exacerbated by a bad perm–like her mom knew she was struggling with her weight or size or confidence and had tried to give her the gift of a salon hair-do, but even that wasn’t working out for her.  She had red “I’ve just been crying but have pulled myself together now” eyes, so I knew it was her.

“Are you ok?”, the other leader asked.

Instantly, she melted into tears again…

“It’s ok”, I told cooed. “What’s going on?”, I asked as she tried to hustle away.

She had a panicked look on her face, but I needed to know she was alright, so I pursued her down the hallway a few steps.

I don’t exactly remember what happened next, but amid tears and a down-turned face, the story tumbled out in bits and pieces…

She had been trying to hold it…there was only 1 stall in there…everyone would laugh at her…she had peed all over the floor…she just wanted to leave…everyone was going to make fun of her…she just wanted to get back before anyone found out…

I was relieved. This was fixable. It was not the “worst thing” as I had imagined like we all do when you hear of a little girl sobbing in the bathroom…

Without thinking twice, mom-mode kicked in and I just did what I would have done for either of my own little girls, and what I would wish for anyone who was in the vicinity of one of my little girls should they ever be in a crisis of this sort.

I asked her if she was OK–she said yes.

I asked her if she was wet and needed to get changed or if she could just go back to the auditorium–she replied, ‘only a little on my shirt, I don’t think anyone will notice it’ before the crumpled-face crying and embarrassment and shame of it all hit her again.

I told her I would take care of the bathroom, then I pulled her pee-soaked, bad permed, camp-smelly self into a hug and whispered, “you’re ok, it’s all ok, you just get back to camp and all you need to worry about is having a really good time.”

Then, I went into the bathroom to take care of the mess. And it was an ocean. And there were only those thin, scratchy brown paper towels that don’t soak up a sneeze and don’t change shape or color even when immersed in a sink full of warm water.

I began covering the puddle with the brown rectangles and watched them do nothing but float on the top. I gingerly stepped on a few to see if that would help the absorbency process along any…

My new sneakers…

The smell of the urine…

My gag reflex…

The camper that had been in the stall during “the incident” and now at the sink asking, “what is that on the floor? what happened?” knowing full well what it was…

Oh God, help me!

“Oh, something just spilled…and I don’t want anyone to slip and get hurt”, I willed the words out of my mouth around the threatening gag reflex. She stood there and watched, waiting to see if I grimaced as I bent down to scoop up the sopping, dripping cloths with my bare hands.

Dear God, give me strength to do this.

Nosey Nancy finally left when she saw that I wasn’t losing my cool and wasn’t offering up any more details.

Four rounds of stubbornly impermeable brown towelettes later, I managed to dry the floor enough for it not to be a slip hazard. And my dinner was still intact.

The leader who had asked me for help was lingering in the hallway to thank me for assisting the distressed camper–apologizing for dragging me into the situation.

“Life is already hard enough for some of these kids…it’s a tough age…camp isn’t always easy…I just didn’t want her to worry about this on top of it all”.

Always. There is something that happens at camp. And it’s usually to my heart.

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Batgirl: Performing amazing feats of logistics

This is a true story that happened to me in June 2011…every year I re-post how I became…BATGIRL!

Backstory:  Beginnings
                  Dillemma
                  Pierced

To complete my rabies series, I would need to get injections 4 days after my original shot, 7 days after, 14 days after and 28 days after.

Kind of a pain, but REALLY a pain if:

  • No medical entities in Michigan had the serum in stock and could administer the rabies shot except for the ER downtown (and it took nearly 20 phone calls to find this out)
  • The family and I were headed to church camp the next day and would be in the boonies hours away from home and without cell coverage (unless you were standing in the middle of the soccer field) when the day 4 injection needed to take place
  • I would be in Chicago when the day 14 injection needed to take place
  • My husband’s job would be changing hence our medical insurance would be changing right in the middle of my series of injections
  • I would be in Oklahoma when the day 28 injection needed to happen and the new insurance would only cover me if I were physically in the state of Georgia

It was excruciatingly frustrating to have to try to figure out how, when, and where to get these shots on the exact dates they needed to happen and in the locations that I would be on those dates. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent making phone calls to hospitals, ER’s, med centers, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and the insurance company to get each and every poke procured.

Not to mention the cost. Google how much a single rabies shot costs. Now multiply by 5. Add in ER visits and all the miscellaneous hospital expenses they LOVE to tack on. No wonder Bill Finger made Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne, a millionaire; no one less endowed could afford to survive a bat bite!
Day 4 injection
My dearest friend, who was also volunteering at church camp, drove me 45 min to the hospital nearest to the camp that assured me they had a rabies shot to give me. We drove over what appeared to be a 27 foot long black snake on the dirt roads as we drove to get there. I walked into the ER and sat and waited, along with a man who had sliced his hand and was gushing blood, as all the old people who had fasted to take blood tests were taken BEFORE the walk-in emergencies. Again, I state, gushing blood man had to sit and wait with his arm elevated and trying to contain the blood flow with a paper towel while Alma, Cletus, Edna Mae, Walter, and Edith all got their cholesterol checked.
After finally being taken to the ICU of this very tiny hospital, I was told to sit on a bed and wait. My room adjoined another patient’s room, and he had just been helped to the restroom that adjoined our rooms. Let’s just say the sounds I heard rumbling from the bowels of that bathroom were making me ill as I waited for the nurse to decipher my chart because, “she ain’t got no stickers on here!” Lord help me! I don’t have stickers on my chart and they aren’t going to give me my shot!
Finally a nurse with a syringe entered my room and asked me where my most recent shot had been, then proceeded to inject my alternate hind-quarter before I was released. I did not get a band-aid on my injection site and my release entailed no paperwork. “Have a great day, honey–walk right down that hallway, go out the door on the right and you’ll be outside in the parking lot”.  I highly suspect that syringe was filled with nothing more than plain tap water.

2 down…3 to go…
On the drive from the hospital back to the camp, we came upon some local construction. The worker holding the “slow/stop” sign apparently didn’t think we were slowing down/stopping fast enough and started yelling at us before he literally tore his vest and shirt off to make his point. Not in a good way. If he had shaved in the past month or had his hair cut in the last year, had any teeth, or did not look like nicotine was his only food group maybe the experience would have been more pleasantly memorable. We laughed our way back from our very “rural” hospital experience.
…tomorrow it ends…

Overheard at camp

I’m at Camp KidJam this week.

I had just finished kicking around a soccer ball with some campers when I decided to grab a piece of shade and cool off for a minute.

Here’s what I observed and overheard:

The soccer ball had rolled under a bus, and my son, Liam, found my husband, Dan, and said, “Dad! My soccer ball is under the bus. Can you help me get it out?”

Here’s what happened next that I just can’t stop thinking about.

Two campers were in the shade eating Sno Kones and had seen and heard the same soccer-ball-under-the-bus that I had just seen. One little boy quietly said to the other, “It’d be cool to have a dad. I wish I had a dad.”

And in that moment, I knew why I spent 7 hours doing laundry and packing, filled our van with gas and drove endless hours, ate cafeteria food, slept in beds with squeaky plastic mattress covers, and walk ’til my feet feel like throbbing bricks. Because there are kids that come to camp to feel like they’re a part of something, like they belong to a family. Even if it’s just for a few days.

And while my sleeping arrangements weren’t exactly five star, I found sleep harder to attain last night as I prayed that our Heavenly Father would be evident to the kids this week. That He would fill the void in the lives of the kids that are here looking for a place to belong and someone to love them.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
~I John 5:1